Jai Narayan Vyas, former senior minister in the Keshubhai Patel, Suresh Mehta and Narendra Modi Cabinets – he was in all of them | File
Giving the Congress in Gujarat a reason to smile, former BJP minister Jai Narayan Vyas, who fought the battle in the Supreme Court to make the Narmada dam a reality, embraced the Opposition party on Monday in the presence of its President Mallikarjun Kharge and Rajasthan Chief Ashok Gehlot.
Mr Vyas, who quit the BJP on Nov 5, allegedly after being denied a ticket for the election, told The Free Press Journal: “I have joined the Congress because I can see the Bharat Jodo Yatra emerging strongly to counter the ‘Bharat todo’ forces. Rahul Gandhi has arrived.”
About speculation that he quit on being denied a ticket, he said, “I never asked the Congress or the BJP for a ticket. This was not a condition for me to join the party. I waited until the process of filing and withdrawing nominations ended to join the party.“
“I wanted to see how low they [the BJP] could get to speak about me, so I allowed that charge that I am asking for a ticket go undisputed. It was after thinking for long thatI decided to quit the party that doesn’t value its people or their growth. I gave them 32 years,” Mr Vyas said.
He refused to say if there was any quid pro quo deal with the Congress. “My joining the Congress is not a business contract,” he retorted. “It is a conscious decision. There is no real internal democracy in any party, but the Congress is most democratic of all. Khargeji was elected after a transparent process.”
Mr Vyas’s son Sameer, chairman of the Siddhpur Agricultural Produce Market Committee, also joined the Congress with his father. Mr Vyas was a Cabinet minister in the BJP governments led by Keshubhai Patel, Suresh Mehta and Narendra Modi, before he lost the 2012 and 2017 Assembly elections.
He is a civil engineering graduate from the Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda and a post-graduate in civil engineering from IIT Bombay. He also holds a postgraduate qualification in marketing management and a degree in law.
He had a long stint as a bureaucrat in the state industries department, which was followed by a political career spanning more than 20 years. He is a water management expert and shepherded the Sardar Sarovar project at critical stages and fought legal battles up to the Supreme Court to start its implementation.