Often referred to as the ‘Bapu’ or ‘Gujarat ka Sher’, Shankar Singh Vaghela with his quick-witted attitude and relentless enthusiasm has left the indelible impression not just on his co-workers but also the politicians from both the parties- BJP and Congress.
Not many are aware of the fact that he also has shown keen interest in the education of youngsters and has therefore established, the Shankar Singh Vaghela Bapu Institute of Technology in 2009 in Gandhinagar.
Once known as the confidante of LK Advani and the mentor of the current Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Shankar Singh Vagehla’s political journey is full of interesting twists and turns. In this article, let’s look at some of the key events of his remarkable political career.
He wore diverse hats for distinct roles
From being given the responsibility of meticulously organizing and strengthening the frontal organizations of RSS like the Bharatiya Kisan Sangh and the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad, Shankar Singh Vaghela, the 79-year-old veteran leader has served the nation with his significant roles in both the BJP and Congress party.
Shankar Singh Vaghela started his political career with Jana Sangha, which later was known as the Janata Party. Later when the Janata Party got split into various sections, he became the senior leader with the Bharatiya Janata Party. In the year 1996, he ventured to form his own party- Rashtriya Janata Party. And, he served as the Chief Minister of Gujarat from 1996 to 1997.
Later, he joined Congress. Other than these major transitions, he has been a Member of Parliament (MP) six times, once in Rajyasabha and five times in Lokasabha. He represented the Kapadvanj constituency in the Gujarat assembly from 2012 to 2017. He was the Leader of Opposition in the 13th Gujarat Legislative Assembly.
During the period of Emergency from 1974-1975, he was jailed
During the above mentioned period, Shankar Singh Vaghela was the organizing secretary of Jan Sangh. When the emergency was clamped down, all the leaders of the opposition parties were arrested. He was given the task of organizing the stay of the opposition leaders and ensuring their security. It was during this time that he was also jailed.
Bonding with Prime Minister Narendra Modi over motorbike trips
When Shankar Singh Vaghela was a Loksabha member and our Prime Minister Narendra, a BJP worker, the two of them had gone many times on motorbike trips. Prime Minister Narendra Modi used to ride the Royal Enfield owned by him and both of them on that bike used to visit various parts of Gujarat to meet party workers, leaders, writers, commoners, and business people. Two of them had amazing time learning about the party and developing friendship as they continued doing this for almost 4 to 5 years.
Exit from BJP and Collaboration with Congress
When the BJP won the 1998 Assembly elections, the newly formed party of Shankar Singh Vaghela merged with the Congress. Though Congress could never acquire the prominent position in the state of Gujarat, Vaghela served the party in different positions like as Union Textiles Minister from 2004-2009, Loksabha MP from 1999-2008, Chairman of Campaign Committee for 2012 Gujarat elections, President of Gujarat Pradesh Congress Committee and of course the leader of opposition in the assembly.
Shankar Singh Vaghela has secured a special place in the Indian politics, however, his journey is truly an example of how luck and time play an important role in deciding one’s destiny in the wide realm of politics.