As expelled Congress MLA from Godhra, C K Raulji, on Thursday joined the BJP, he brought with him several local Congress leaders who defected to the ruling party. Chief Minister Vijay Rupani and state BJP president Jitu Vaghani, who welcomed Raulji into the party’s fold, used the opportunity to slam the Congress and praise the five-time MLA from Godhra.
“I had been telling party leaders that Raulji is the only bomb in Godhra on whose popularity the Congress was running its shop. Now, the bomb is in the possession of the BJP… This is the beginning of the annihilation of the Congress… It will be a lesson for the Congress which will realise what it has lost in Raulji,” Vaghani said.
Raulji, considered close to former Congress leader Shankarsinh Vaghela, said that he has “no vested interest” in joining the BJP. He said that he was not eyeing a BJP ticket to contest in the Assembly election. “I am not going to jump from one boat to the other or cry for a ticket. I am here till my death. BJP will not win 150 seats, it will win 175 of the total 182 seats in the Assembly polls,” he said.
He also requested the Chief Minister to ensure that the government pay heed to his “requests” of generating jobs in the area.
Meanwhile, the induction of Gangaram Harwani and his wife Vidya, the president of Godhra Municipality, into the BJP along with Raulji will change the political equation in the civic body which has board of Independent candidates, elected for the first time in November 2015.
Harwani, a former BJP leader, was elected president of the Godhra Municipality in July 2002, soon after the Godhra riots. Local Congress leaders said that Harwani has grown close to Raulji, who had thrown his weight behind Vidya’s election as the president for the first half of the term of the municipality.
“Godhra municipality had 44 seats, of which BJP has 18. The Congress won on one seat and Independents bagged 25 seats. With the Harwanis joining the BJP, at least seven more councillors are likely to shift to the BJP,” said a local Congress leader.
Raulji, who began his political career from Janata Dal, is seen as having an influential hold on the councillors.