In June, Aam Aadmi Party announced that they are planning to contest all assembly seats in the Gujarat Assembly in the 2017-elections. Arvind Kejriwal, the Delhi Chief Minister, declared unconditional support for the Patidar reservation agitation led by Hardik Patel, to make an entry for his party to the Gujarat politics.
Recently Gujarat AAP got a new icon- Yatin Oza , a former lawmaker of BJP and a senior lawyer in the Gujarat High Court – to defend them in the national channel discussions and other political discourses. A former BJP MLA from Gujarat, he parted ways with the party, joined the Congress and contested against BJP. He then quit Congress to now join the Aam Aadmi Party.
Oza joined AAP last month, after meeting Kejriwal during his Gujarat visit. But the prominent activists from Gujarat are criticising AAP for their alleged hypocrisy in this matter as Oza is well known for his communal stands who was the lawyer of Maya Kodnani and Asaram Bapu. In the recent past, he was asked by the Supreme Court to file an affidavit tendering unconditional apology for questioning the integrity of two state high court judges. He had alleged that the two Gujarat High Court judges owed allegiance to “7 RCR and 11, Akbar Road” and not to Constitution.
11, Akbar road is the residence of Amit Shah while the latter is the residential address of the PM Narendra Modi. “In the past also, there was three contempt of court proceedings initiated against him. He has been a habitual offender,” says K R Koshti, the lawyer who filed a suit against him.
But the prominent activists from Gujarat are criticising AAP for their alleged hypocrisy in this matter as Oza is well known for his communal stands who was the lawyer of Maya Kodnani and Asaram Bapu.
“It speaks volumes about the hypocrisy of AAP that it has made Yatin Oza as its face in Gujarat,” says Prasad Chacko a senior NGO activist from Ahmedabad. Chacko had been a part of the ‘Citizen’s initiative’, a collective of 40 NGOs in Gujarat formed to help the victims of the 2002 riots.
Oza’s first election victory was from the Sabarmati constituency as an MLA in 1995. Amit Shah who had been just a councillor then, was appointed as his election agent, which eventually came as a breakthrough in Shah’s political career.
But later Oza got sidelined in his party which led him to quit BJP and join Congress in 2001. He parted with Congress mentally after 2007 elections and became a mouthpiece of Sangh Parivar again. During the period of 2011-2014, he was busy with defending the Modi government against accusations over 2002 riots.
“The way he was defending Modi and 2002 genocide and the manner he has become AAP spokesperson is so pathetic. He as a lawyer and member of BJP, not only defended the convicted perpetrators of 2002 but politically justified everything that Modi and BJP did in Gujarat,” said Prasad Chacko.
Oza has become an acceptable person for AAP after he wrote a letter to Arvind Kejriwal, which contained pieces of information that can damage the reputation of BJP. BJP president Amit Shah had met AIMIM leader and party chief Asaduddin Owaisi’s younger brother Akbaruddin Owaisi to make a secret ‘mutual understanding’ in the 2015 Bihar assembly elections, he revealed.
The lawyer was responsible for embarrassing the BJP leaders- who were his old companions- after he joined AAP.
He also said that Aam Aadmi Party is trying to be a substitute of BJP in Gujarat. “AAP and Oza will make a good combination to make it possible. AAP is focusing on the urban votes in Gujarat, which are still with the BJP,” said Koshti.
Oza had been a face of BJP in the national channel discussions, defending them in the 2002 carnages. He was the advocate of Maya Kodnani, former Gujarat minister who was sentenced to twenty-eight years of imprisonment by the special court in Ahmedabad in 2012, for her participation in the Naroda Patiya massacre during the 2002 Gujarat riots. Oza continued to defend BJP even after the court verdict.
“The conviction of one or two BJP persons in no way proves that the party was involved. This should be seen in the realm of individual cases,” said Oza in response to the queries of the media after the court verdict.
He also condemned the activists for ‘unnecessarily, criticising Modi for the 2002 riots.
“Today it is a fashion (by which) Mr Modi has become a red rag. Speak everything against him to be in the limelight,” said Oza in a channel discussion in 2012.
Pratik Sinha, editor of ‘Truth of Gujarat’ said that Oza had defended BJP on national television in case of Gujarat Riots and Fake Encounters as a BJP spokesperson.
Oza has been portrayed as the ‘devil’s advocate’ by the political observers as he has appeared for people like Kodnani, Asaram Bapu etc. Oza was the lawyer who filed a suit in the Gujarat High Court to quash the charges of sexual assault filed against the self-styled godman Asaram Bapu and his son Narayan Sai, by two Surat-based sisters.
“Gujarat High Court lawyer Yatin Oza and ex BJP MLA who is becoming prominent in AAP Gujarat and can be seen as AAP spokesperson on some news channels these days has been a lawyer for Maya Kodnani, for Asaram and many more. Used to be in Congress in the early 2000s before he jumped ship. He’s defended BJP on national television in case of Gujarat Riots and Fake Encounters as a BJP spokesperson. Is that the direction AAP Gujarat wants to go towards?” Sinha asked in his FB post.
Vijoo Krishnan, Central Committee member of Communist Party of India (Marxist) said that it is a shame that a person who was the face of the BJP defence of the ‘indefensible acts’ committed during Gujarat Carnage is today the face of AAP.
“A person who defended mass murderers and rapists is now being projected as the person who will clean Gujarat.That explains the hollow nature of AAP and its claims of resisting the communal BJP,” said Krishnan.