On the last day of filing of nomination papers by candidates for the first phase of Gujarat assembly elections today, the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party witnessed rebellion from senior party leaders, including a former minister.
Former minister Ranjitsinh Jhala caused much embarrassment to the BJP by walking out of the party alleging that the party high command had given mandate to contest the Wadhwan (Surendranagar district) assembly constituency to a rank outsider and industrialist Dhanji Patel because he had paid Rs 9 crore.
“I had not asked for a ticket for myself but how can I tolerate such a gross malpractice of fielding a candidate on monetary consideration,” Jhala said.
The BJP dropped sitting legislator Varsha Doshi for Patel.
In fact, former minister and party spokesperson IK Jadeja had sought to be fielded as a candidate from the Wadhwan seat and was denied a ticket too. Jadeja is considered close to former chief minister Anandiben Patel who is at loggerheads with BJP president Amit Shah. Jadeja’s supporters gathered at state BJP headquarters and raised slogans against the party president.
Another sitting MLA Jethabhai Solanki from Kodinar constituency of Saurashtra region, resigned after he was denied a ticket. Solanki, a prominent Dalit face, had won from this seat in the 2012 assembly election by a margin of 63,300 votes. Solanki, who was also a Parliamentary Secretary, resigned from the party and his posts.
Ever since the BJP announced its list of candidates for the first phase of polls to be held on December 9, the party has witnessed protests and resignations of local leaders in Vadodara, the predominantly tribal constituencies of Chhota Udepur and Bharuch districts, Navsari in South Gujarat and Mahuva, Jasdan and Amreli in Saurashtra.
The BJP released the list of its candidates in three instalments of 70, 36 and 28. In an apparent attempt to placate the members of the Patidar community, which has been on a war path with the BJP government, the BJP disclosed the names of as many 15 Patel candidates in its third and final list of 28 candidates.
Among the Patel candidates figured the name of former industries and petrochemicals minister Saurabh Patel considered close to Anandiben Patel. However, this time he has been shifted from Akota in Vadodara to Botad in Saurashtra. Among the surprise drops were Anandiben Patel’s sister Vasuben Trivedi from Jamnagar to accommodate senior leader RC Faldu, who was angry over being dropped from Jamnagar Rural constituency to field Congress defector Raghavji Patel.
Diamond merchant Nanubhai Vanani, minister of state and the most bitter critic of pro Patidar-quota stir leader Hardik Patel, has been dropped in Surat. In all, five candidates have been replaced in Surat, which was the hub of the Patidar agitation. Angry protests from BJP’s rank and file have been reported from over 40 assembly constituencies.