Delhi CM and AAP Convenor Arvind Kejriwal met the officials of Unjha nagarpalika in Mehsana district on Saturday. Kejriwal, who made an all-out effort to woo Patidars at Pilodra on Friday, seemed to have found a common ground in the nagarpalika in which 35 independent candidates had ousted Congress and BJP last year. In Delhi Assembly polls, Kejriwal’s AAP had won 67 of the total 70 seats. The municipality officials, however, termed Kejriwal’s visit as “non-political”.
Lauding the spirit of the independent candidates of Unjha, Kejriwal said, “I had heard a lot about the Unjha nagarpalika and how many independent candidates got elected here. I was told that the work which many parties have not been able to do in years, these independent representatives have done in the last 10 months and I applaud that. I hope the elected representatives will take inspiration from your passion. Municipalities and panchayats are probably the lowest tier of governance under our Constitution and both can be made more effective if more people are increasingly made a part of the decision-making process,” Kejriwal said.
In December last year, out of the total 36 seats in Unjha municipality — a Patidar bastion also known to be a BJP stronghold for two decades — 35 independent candidates had won. In the municipality polls held in the aftermath of the Patidar agitation, the BJP did not field any candidate, fearing backlash from the community against the BJP.
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Kejriwal, on a two-day visit to Gujarat, had visited the families of Patidar youths who were killed in police firing in Mehsana and Unjha, known as the spice hub of the state. He also visited the temple of Umiya Mata, a deity of the Patidar community. A group of representatives and corporators from the Unjha nagarpalika, headed by president Meenaben Patel, welcomed the Delhi CM to its premises. Kejriwal spoke briefly to the group of corporators and “independents”.
Kantaben Patel, among many women corporators present at the occasion, said she hoped to join AAP. A corporator from Ward 4, Pinal Bhavleshbhai Patel, said that the Patidar quota stir which had gripped Unjha was not discussed at the meeting.
Nagarpalika officials shared the details of the public works worth Rs 550 lakh in Unjha — including construction of roads, sports centre, exhibition hall, watertanks and roads that will commence soon — with Kejriwal. They also handed over a souvenir, commemorating the Umiya Mata temple, to Kejriwal.
“We have not given any invitation, but it is our responsibility to ensure that if any CM is coming here and if he wishes to visit Unjha Nagarpalika, we welcome him. There will not be any political discussion at all,” Rakesh Patel, vice-president of Unjha nagarpalika, told this paper. Sources in the know added that AAP’s north Gujarat convenor, Ramesh Ishwar Patel, was instrumental in organising the visit as there was “strong anti-BJP wave” in Unjha, in the wake of the quota agitation.