Shah hopes to ride sympathy wave

Amit Shah

"...Congress, out of political vendetta, misused CBI and framed Amit Shah, sent him to jail in 2010, kept him away from the state and the family for two years in the encounter case of a terrorist named Sohrabuddin Sheikh from whose house an AK-47, 150 hand grenades, more than one lakh cartridges and explosives were seized. But who can defeat the truth? Winning the fight for justice at the Supreme Court, Amit Shah, who has remained MLA from Sarkhej for four consecutive terms, is now contesting for a fifth term from Naranpura constituency as your candidate..."

Thus reads a 10-page booklet being distributed in Naranpura constituency from where the former minister of state for home, who is alleged to have masterminded the encounter killings of Sohrabuddin Sheikh, Kauser Bi and Tulsiram Prajapati, is contesting from the BJP.

Shah himself calls the charges "politically motivated". "I have gained sympathy over the years, but Congress will have to pay the price for what they did to me. Gujarat has only 12 cases of encounters, but there have been 1,200 such incidents across the nation," he tells The Indian Express at BJP's Usmanpura office on Thursday noon, hours before setting out for his evening campaign.

"Amitbhai has strong support from party workers at the ground level. The last two years, instead of affecting his political career, has actually benefited him in emerging as a powerful politician," says one of his supporters.

Around 5 pm, Shah briefs his party workers for about half-an-hour and then sets outs for campaigning with a convoy of cars, open jeeps and motorcycles trailing him from Usmanpura to Nava Vadaj.

The campaign starts from Saurabh High School with a loud burst of drums. Shah, standing on an open jeep and surrounded by party workers, starts waving his hands to the gathered crowd even as BJP workers distribute garlands to roadside vendors and people standing by the road.

... contd.

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