K’taka guv once vacated Gujarat Assembly seat for Modi

Ahmedabad: Karnataka Governor Vajubhai Vala, whose role is in focus after the polls threw up a hung Assembly in the southern state, had once vacated his assembly seat in Gujarat to enable the then first time chief minister Narendra Modi to contest his maiden election in 2001.

Karnataka Governor Vajubhai Vala, who was holding Rajkot (West), Gujarat which was considered one of the safest seat for BJP, offered his seat for first time chief minister Narendra Modi to contest, which he won to make a debut in the Assembly.

Both the BJP and a post-poll alliance of the Congress and the JD(S) have staked claim to form the government after their leaders met Vala at Raj Bhavan in Bengaluru this evening.

79-year-old Vala, who is considered very close to Modi, is a hard core RSS follower and has a record in his name for presenting 18 budgets as the finance minister of Gujarat.

Vala, who has earned a reputation of a crisis manager in the Gujarat unit of the BJP, was made state party chief after the rebellion by Shankarsinh Vaghela in the mid-90s that resulted in the fall of Keshubhai Patel government.

He was the number two under Modi from 2002 to 2012 as finance minister of the state. Earlier under Keshubhai Patel too, he enjoyed a similar position.

Vala started his political innings with the RSS from his home town of Rajkot. He then joined Jan Sangh and had also gone to jail during Emergency.

When he was Mayor of Rajkot City in 1980s, the area faced acute water shortage due to deficient rains.

He had made arrangements for bringing water by train for the city’s residents, which was perhaps for the first time that a train was used for transportation of water in the country. He instantly became famous as “paniwala mayor”.

Vala became one of the prominent faces of BJP as it emerged as a potent political force.

Modi was made chief minister of Gujarat in 2001 replacing Keshubhai Patel. As he was not a MLA at that time he had to win an election in six months when the state was grappling with the effects of a powerful earthquake in Kutch.

In his search for a safe seat, Modi had zeroed in on Paldi constituency in Ahmedabad, but the sitting MLA Haren Pandya refused to vacate the seat.

Vala, who was holding Rajkot (West) which was considered one of the safest seat for BJP, offered his seat for Modi which he won to make a debut in the Assembly.

He was made speaker of the state Assembly in 2012.

After Modi became prime minister in 2014, Vala was one of the contenders for the post of chief minister of Gujarat, but the party chose Anandiben Patel. Later, he was appointed Governor of Karnataka.