The controversial elections for the post of president and vice-president of the Baroda District Cooperative Milk Producers’ Union, popularly known as Baroda Dairy, was held on Monday. The BJP claimed victory over both the posts, even though the counting of votes and declaration of results have been stayed by the High Court until further hearing on January 22 on a petition filed by a board member.
The HC stay order came even as voting started around 12 noon in the presence of 13 members of the board.
The petitioner has moved the High Court, opposing the selection of two women directors, who were included in the Board as government candidates just a few days before the election. These candidates were selected after the government suspended the primary membership of two directors — Mukesh Patel and Dilipsinh Gohil — a decision opposed by Congress-affiliated members. While Patel was later reinstated after he appealed against the suspension, Gohil plans to move the HC against the suspension.
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“The HC asked to conduct the election, but stayed counting of votes. The counting will happen as per the HC directive in the next hearing,” said deputy collector Rakesh Vyas, under whose supervision the elections were held.
While all 13 members of the board cast their votes, the managing director stayed away and two representatives of the Gujarat Cooperative Milk Marketing Federation remained absent, he said. The election was held four months after the one-year tenure of the president and the vice-president expired in September last year. The election was delayed after the present chairman Shailesh Patel filed a petition in the HC, requesting it not to allow the authorities to hold election before they complete a tenure of five years, as per changes in provisions of the state cooperative act. The court later turned down the petition.
The Congress-backed members opposed the selection of two women candidates as government nominees, which was made possible after the state government amended a section of the Gujarat Cooperative Societies Act in April last year.
“The government changed the provisions of the state cooperative act in April last year to suit its own convenience. As per changes, societies with individual members can reserve seats, while in Baroda Dairy there is not a single such society. Despite that, government nominated two women candidates as members just a few days before the election, which indicates how the BJP is misusing government machinery to wrest control of the Dair,” Congress-backed vice-president G B Solanki, who is pitching for the post of president, said. The BJP claimed that its members for the two posts, Motibhai Patel and Shailesh Patel, were all set to emerge victorious, as the party has got support of 9 out of 13 members. Top party leaders were seen backing their candidates at the venue of the election, with MLA from Padra, Dinesh Patel, district president Bharat Pandya and secretary Satish Patel claiming victory over both the posts.