Shweta Bhatt may be the candidate contesting against Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi but there are few doubts that it is her husband who is fighting the battle of words. While the Chief Minister has chosen to ignore his competitor altogether and Shweta Bhatt has chosen not to rise beyond rhetoric, it has been the former IPS official who has been in the media, using his time on the airwaves to take on Modi.
As she campaigns in an SUV in Maninagar, Shweta relies on righteousness and says that she is fighting for freedom of speech and development in the Chief Minister's constituency of Maninagar, reports the Hindu.
“If I win, it will be a victory for Gujarat; if I lose, Gujarat will lose,” Bhatt said dramatically while on the campaign trail.
She has defended her decision to contest the election in the past, saying it was entirely her decision to contest the poll and has even said that it was taken while her husband was in jail.
"I had taken this decision to fight against Modi for quite some time. In fact, I had made up my mind to fight against him when I was fighting for my husband. Those people (Modi's law and order machinery) extended my husband's bail issue for 17 days when he could have got it in just 20 minutes," Shweta told Rediff in an interview.
On the other hand, Sanjiv Bhatt, who has been waging a protracted war against Modi and his government, is less taciturn and while staying firmly in the spotlight has made the electoral battle as much his own as his wife's.
From television debates to interviews, Bhatt has gone from writing letters asking Modi to introspect on his role in the 2002 communal riots in the state to even considering the possibility of his entry into politics someday.
Bhatt has also managed to escape a rap on the knuckles from the Election Commission for campaigning for his wife, ironically thanks to being suspended by the Modi government.
In an interview to Open, Bhatt doesn't rule out the possibility of him exiting government service to take his battle into the electoral arena and says he is financially secure enough to contemplate this possibility.
And he says that he originally wanted his wife to contest as an independent candidate and had rebuffed feelers from Keshubhai Patel before settling for the Congress, a choice made by Shweta.
"But the Congress is an old party and they might have [felt] that if they didn't field a candidate against Modi, it would raise questions that they had given up without a fight. According to Shweta, the Congress was best suited," he said.
Shweta Bhatt and perhaps even the Congress' victory in the Maninagar seat is something even the best bookmaker wouldn't offer odds on. Unfortunately as Firstpost had pointed out earlier, there is little beyond symbolism in getting her to compete against Modi, something that also stands diluted thanks to the allegations leveled by her husband against the Chief Minister.
While Bhatt and the Congress may see Shweta's candidacy as a moral stand of sorts, it unfortunately does little beyond giving her husband some more air time to continue taking pot shots at the Chief Minister over the 2002 riots, something the Congress party itself has detached itself from in this poll. Bhatt's battle against the Gujarat Chief Minister may continue in the courts of law, but it's doesn't seem likely to last long in the political arena he hopes to defeat him in.