Even as six-time BJP MP Ratilal Verma has dared to challenge the state party leadership and more particularly the Chief Minister Narendra Modi,two prominent personalities joined the saffron party on Friday. Amit Mehta,the grandson of former state Chief Minister and Nationalist Congress Party leader Chhabildas Mehta and leading high court lawyer Devang Nanavati joined the party in presence of state BJP chief Purshottam Rupala.
Nanavati said that he was immensely influenced by BJPs political ideology for the last seven years but felt now that it was the time to join the party formally and be more useful for it.
As more than 50 per cent of the electorate is youth,I feel that I can help in mobilising the youths toward the saffron party, Nanavati told Newsline.
The 39-year-old Nanavati is the son of senior Gujarat high court advocate Sudhir Nanavati who had once contested as a Congress candidate against BJPs Haren Pandya from Ellisbridge assembly constituency but had lost the polls.
On the other hand,Amit Mehta contested December 2007 assembly elections on NCP ticket with Congress support from Mahuva seat in Bhavnagar district but lost to BJP.
After the demise of his grandfather recently,Mehta shifted his political loyalty to the BJP on Friday. If party bosses are to be believed,Mandhatasinh Jadeja,son of senior Congress leader and former state Finance Minister Manoharsinh Jadeja,is also likely to join the BJP at a function in Rajkot on Sunday.
Jadejas crossing over to BJP is considered to be significant because he hails from Saurashtra which has been the centre of anti-Modi movement in the saffron outfit for the last one and half years.
BJP State party spokesperson said that not only leaders belonging to other parties but even non-political but important personalities from various fields were joining the BJP for two reasons: One,the state has achieved unimaginable scale of development under Modis leadership and two,everyone irrespective of political,religious or caste affiliations have benefited from it.
He said that there was also a change of heart among the Muslims vis-à-vis BJP,particularly in Kutch region and many local Muslims,according to him,have agreed to join the BJP in the next fortnight.
We dont want to exploit Muslims by using them as vote banks as is done by the Congress. We want them to grow and progress along with others on an equal level and we welcome them too in the party, he said in response to a question.
However,he refused to comment on the belligerence of six-time Lok Sabha MP from Dhandhuka Ratilal Verma,the partys Dalit face in the state. Verma had recently expressed anger over the state party leadership trying to reject his candidature for forthcoming Lok Sabha elections in the state.
The 61-year-old Dalit leader,who claims himself among founders of the party in this western state,has demanded nomination either from Ahmedabad West (SC) or Kutch (SC) as his Dhanhuka seat was dissolved during delimitation exercise.
Verma said that he was ready to contest from any of the two seats to ensure that L K Advani becomes the Prime Minister. Asked if he would also support Modi if he was chosen the Prime Minister in place of Advani,he said this was not an occasion for this question but I am also not opposed to Modi being made the PM.
Stating that Dalits accounted for a sizeable share of the electorate,he said that no party could afford to ignore them. He is meeting the national party bosses in Delhi shortly to seek nomination for himself as he suspects that the state party leadership will not decide in his favour.
BJP candidates for the LS polls
State BJP president Purshottam Rupala told media persons today that the names of the candidates for 25 Lok Sabha seats were likely to be announced by the party leaders in Delhi on March 17. Sources said the parliamentary board of the state unit of the party had finalized the names of the candidates and recommended it to the central party board for final decision.
However,sources said that Rajkot MP Vallabh Kathiria and Surat MP Kanshiram Rana who had reportedly backed the party rebels during last assembly elections,are likely to be axed. Ahmedabad MP Haren Pathak is also likely to be axed as his constituency was dissolved during delimitation. ENS