Zadaphia, as the former Gujarat home minister was known to be a critic of PM Modi and Amit Shah, and has remained isolated within the party for a long time.
In the political lobby, it is said, that the route to Delhi goes through the neighboring Uttar Pradesh. For the BJP, it rang true in 2014 when the saffron party managed to win 71 out of the 80 Lok Sabha seats in the state, managing to reduce the Samajwadi Party (SP) to a single-digit where Mayawati's Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) could not even win one.
This massive win for the BJP was credited to the party's UP in-charge Amit Shah, who is also BJP's national president. Shah was said to have micromanaged the elections down to every booth, and it was this strategy that was successfully replicated across several states in the coming years.
Shah's position as the UP in-charge will now be helmed by Gordhan Zadaphia, an announcement which has surprised many, even within the BJP, according to reports.
Zadaphia was appointed on December 26 as the BJP's UP in-charge for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections. The former Gujarat home minister is a known critic of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Amit Shah, and has remained isolated within the party for a long time, which is why his appointment sent ripples down political circles.
Zadaphia also has had a close relationship with the former international president of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), Praveen Togadia; former Gujarat Chief Minister Keshubhai Patel, and former BJP general secretary Sanjay Joshi, all of whom have been at odds with Modi during his reign in Gujarat.
In 2004, after Modi had expanded his cabinet in Gujarat, Zadaphia had announced from the stage that he would not be a part of the government and had refused to take oath. In subsequent interviews, as the general secretary of the Gujarat unit of the party, Zadaphia had criticised Modi and his governance. He had also floated his own party before coming back to the BJP just before the 2014 general elections.
Zadaphia is known to be a staunch Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) ideologue, and some reports have suggested that the Sangh might have pushed the BJP to include the sidelined leader within the party's functioning once again. He also has considerable sway on the Patel votes, and, according to an Economic Times report, was an early mentor to Hardik Patel, who has been opposing Modi in Gujarat.