Nagpur: He is no more with the BJP, in fact his son Praful contested Vidhan Sabha elections last year as a Congress candidate against Devendra Fadnavis but Vinod Gudhade firmly believes that if Fadnavis is CM of Maharashtra today, it is largely due to the role he played in giving BJP a base in Nagpur.
He is not much off the mark. There was time when BJP leaders like Sumatitai Sukhalikar would get a few thousand votes, and lose her deposit, every time she contested elections from Nagpur. Leave alone a M.P. seat, becoming an MLA or even winning corporation elections was tough for Jan Sangh, which later became BJP.
“I have been the first Corporator of Nagpur elected on a BJP ticket and also the first MLA, no one can deny that” asserts Vinod Bhau. His family, the Gudhade Patils ruled the roost over Jaitala village, which is now part of the CM’s constituency. Just their family members were in hundreds. Their caste people ( the Kunbis) and SC community comprised of the entire area. With such demography, a Brahmin candidate had no chance of ever winning any elections. And Jan Sangh had mostly upper caste members only at that time. But Vinod had been an anomaly. He had been recruited into the RSS as a teenager, so later, he did not need much persuasion to join its political wing, the Jan Sangh. Ironically, it was Devendra’s father, Gangadhar who was largely responsible for this move. After demuring from entering active politics for some time, finally Vinod’s family allowed him to contest elections. He got stiff competition with Congress trying many disruptive ways to divide votes, but he won local elections with such a huge margin that all the other candidates lost their deposits.
Later, as a Corporator, he was he who proposed young Devendra’s name for Mayor. And when Devendra decided to contest Vidhan Sabha elections, it was Vinod’s constituency that was vacated for him. It was the first win of an upper caste candidate from this part of Nagpur – and it couldn’t have been possible without the active support and canvassing from Gudhade Patil and his team of volunteers.
Later, a sad turn of events made Vinod Gudhade lose his faith in the inner party democracy of BJP. He was even made a Minister when BJP- Shiv Sena alliance came to power in Mumbai, but there was bitterness and bickering in Nagpur from ‘Wada’. Later, in what he felt was an act of vengeance, a large portion of his agricultural land was ” acquired” by Maharasthra government in the name of infrastructure. Since then he has spear headed the campaign for rights of farmers which has continued in the cause of MIHAN affected farmers of Sonegaon and other villages.
So how does he rate Devendra’s first year as CM?
“Devendra was very outspoken on two issues” says Vinod, “the cause of Cotton farmers and the struggle for Vidarbha. He was the most effective voice in Mumbai on these two problems. It is sad, that he seems to have turned his back on both as CM of the state” rues the veteran politician. ( Though he does not like to be called that now; I am a farmer, and will always remain that, he says.)
Explaining his stand he says Devendra Fadnavis, as Opposition member had demanded that Cotton farmers of Vidarbha should be given at least Rs. 7000 – 8000 a quintal for cotton for them to survive and flourish.
“He used to make this case very passionately and vocally. Now when he is in a position to implement it, why are farmers getting approx just half of that?” He asks.
“His turn around or at least silence on the Vidarbha issue has also not gone unnoticed by people” points out Mr. Gudhade.
About MIHAN he says some base for industries should have been created in the area first; industries based on the area’s agri products like Cotton, Oranges and Paddy. Then we should have gone in for an export oriented SEZ.
“Now many farmers have lost their agricultural land for a pittance and farming has stopped on these fertile tracts. But what has replaced it? Where are the exporting industries?” He asks.
“Mark my words, MIHAN will also end up becoming an ‘Educational centre’ with politicians who wield clout now coming up with private Engg and Medical colleges.
“Otherwise why should the Zaar of educational institutes, Datta Meghe have joined BJP?”
About the politics BJP is playing at the national level also he is very anguished. “You cannot divide this country on communal grounds and hope for progress and prosperity. That is the road map to hell. But people should realize that , the creation of a Hindu state and a Brahmin at the helm of affairs was the stated goal of the RSS since its creation. If Modi does not win Bihar for BJP, I have a strong feeling, he will be made to go. Ever since he was BJP President, RSS has wanted Gadkari as PM. That opinion was voiced publicly. They will surely use any opportunity to made good that plan.” States Vinod Gudhade Patil, a one time friend of Gadkari.
Today, true to his word, Vinod Bhau, lives like a farmer. No trappings of power. Despite having been a Minister, he still lives in a simple, almost humble abode, at the far end of Jaitala. If you go looking for his house, which is easy to miss for anyone visiting for the first time, even a child on the road one Km away will tell you which way to go.
When we finally reached his place after taking one or two wrong turns, we found no expensive cars or other symbols of prosperity around his place. In fact his house, flanked by his sons’ and brothers’ does not even have a compound wall or a garden around it. It opens directly on the road. We are late and Vinod Bhau has already left for his farm. But when we call him, he comes back in ten minutes, as he promises on the phone. Meanwhile, his wife entertains us, and brings us tea. The drawing room where we are seated is big no doubt, but it has a small, old fashioned TV in one corner and a closet of clothes ( all white) in another, Nothing designer about it like POP ceilings, expensive furnishings, and wall mounted flat screen TVs. No AC either.
He doesn’t have to shout from roof tops that he has been a clean politician who genuinely cared, still does, for his consituents. And for Nagpur. And for Vidarbha.
It is sad and tragic that we do not have leaders like that any more.
… Sunita Mudliyar