A sitting BJP corporator of Rajkot Municipal Corporation (RMC), who has faced criminal cases, turned sanyasi Sunday, in the presence of Chief Minister Anandi Patel and her cabinet ministers.
Mahendra Solanki, a four-time sitting corporator from Ward 19 of RMC, took the “holy order” from Jivrajbapu, head of Satadhar, a religious place in Junagadh district at a ceremony organised at Aapa Gigano Otla, some 45 km from Rajkot in Surendranagar district.
The 51-year-old former politician would be the head of Aapa Gigano Otlo, a campus he himself has built near the pilgrim town of Chotila. The Otlo would provide free lodging and boarding facilities to pilgrims, the organisers said.
“Saurashtra is the land of donors, saints and patriots. Centres like this serve the society and when Narendrabhai has turned Narendrabapu, we wish him success in social service,” the CM, said while speaking at Solanki’s “tilak”.
Patel also reminded the gathering that Solanki had served as the deputy mayor of Rajkot city and chairman of the standing committee of the RMC in the past.
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Nitin Patel, who is now the health, family welfare, road and building minister, addressed Solanki as the “revered maharaj”,while former Union minister and chairman of Gujarat Gua Seva Ayog Vallabh Kathiria called him “a close friend”.
Besides, ministers of state Govind Patel and Jayanti Kavadiya as well as senior BJP leaders Vijay Rupani and Purushottam Rupala were also present.
Meanwhile, 150 couples tied the knot at a mass wedding ceremony held simultaneously at the Aapa Gigano Otlo during the “tilak” ceremony of Solanki.
A builder by profession, Solanki was the deputy mayor of Rajkot in 2010 and the standing committee chairman during 2011-12. Son of an industrialist, Solnaki used to run his construction business under the banner of Shri Jivraj. His two sons and a daughter are in school.
“While I have taken sanyas in the true spirit of the tradition, I have been given exemption to meeting my family members till my children are married. However, my life would remain dedicated to service,” Solanki told The Indian Express after the initiation ceremony.
In 2006, Solanki and 24 others were booked for rioting and criminal assault on a public servant. A group of people had allegedly ransacked the office of the Rajkot municipal commissioner.
He was arrested by Rajkot city police in 2008 for causing hurt with dangerous weapons under Arms Act after he allegedly fired a gun in Mavdi Chowk area in connection with a property dispute.
Last year, he was questioned by police in connection with the alleged mass suicide by five members of a Nepalese family on the premises ofRMC office. However, he has not been charge-sheeted in this case.
Although, he has taken sanyas, Solanki said he has no immediate plans to resign from the civic body and that he would abide by the order of his guru Jivrajbapu in this regard. He refused to give any details on the amount spent on building the Otlo while saying “my children and Thakur (the Almighty) would take care of my business”.