Three leaders of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) from Vadodara city and Aravalli district have rebelled against the ruling party by filing their independent candidatures for the Gujarat Assembly elections after they were denied party ticket. The leaders are Dinesh Patel and Madhu Shrivastav from Vadodara and Dhavalsinh Zala from Aravalli.
Meanwhile, party state president CR Paatil said that if the three do not withdraw their independent candidatures, then they will be suspended from the party.
Patel filed as independent from Padra whereas Shrivastava did it from Waghodia constituency, while Zala filed his candidature from Bayad constituency of Aravalli.
Both Patel and Shrivastav refused to meet Minister of State Harsh Sanghavi on November 12 after announcing that they would contest the polls independently.
Shrivastav, who met Paatil at Vadodara airport in the presence of local leaders Wednesday afternoon, did not relent while Dinesh Patel claimed that the BJP leaders “did not approach him”.
Shrivastav, who has held the Waghodia constituency from 1995, took out a rally with his supporters and appealed to other BJP leaders of Waghodia to join his campaign.
Speaking after filing his nominations, Shrivastav said, “The voters of Waghodia know who stands with them… I have been a sincere BJP leader all my life and have ensured that the party wins even the smallest of seats in the local elections. It was due to my hardwork that the party got seats in the Waghodia taluka and Vadodara district panchayat… I appeal to all party workers and leaders who had joined the BJP because of me to come and join my campaign.”
Shrivastav has been miffed that the party dropped him and fielded its district unit president Ashwin Patel from his seat.
In Padra, Dinesh Patel has been replaced by Vijaysinh Zala, president of Padra municipality. Dinesh Patel who first won the election from Padra in 2007 as an independent later joined the BJP. In 2012, Patel contested as a BJP candidate and won but le lost the seat in 2017 by 20,000 votes to Congress candidate Jaspalsinh Thakor. Patel is also the chairman of Baroda Dairy.
Dhavalsinh Zala was a close aide of Thakor community leader Alpesh Thakor. In 2017, Zala won assembly elections from Bayad constituency as a Congress candidate. However, in 2019, he cross-voted in the Rajya Sabha elections along with Thakor and then resigned from the Congress and the assembly. The two then joined the BJP.
Zala and Thakor were fielded by the BJP from Bayad and Radhanpur constituencies respectively in the by-elections in 2019. However, both lost to Congress candidates Jasubhai Patel and Raghu Desai respectively.
This time, Zala was denied a BJP party ticket as the party fielded a woman candidate Bhikhiben Parmar from Bayad. Zala protested and hundreds of his supporters also visited state BJP headquarters Shree Kamalam to register their protest.
Speaking with The Indian Express, Zala said, “In 2019 (by-election), I lost by 700 votes. This time, they did not give me ticket though I had worked hard for three years. More than 80 per cent people supported me… I made a representation to the party. But there was no change.”
Zala added that he has not thought of withdrawing his candidature as independent.
Congress has fielded Mahendrasinh Vaghela, son of former Chief Minister Shankersinh Vaghela, from Bayad constituency.
Choosing to play down the rebellion in the party, Paatil said, “It is natural that workers of a strong party are more excited and demand tickets… as it is natural that if given ticket they will win. There are 1.18 crore BJP primary members in Gujarat and 82 lakh are page committe members. We have around 2 to 2.25 crore workers… they can feel bad and can express their dissent. They have the right to express their opinion… I congratulate them as they have set an example that despite not getting the ticket, they put their opinion and and went back to work.”
On protests by some BJP MLAs who were not given tickets, including Madhu Shrivatsav and are conesting as independents, Paatil said that for 182 seats, 4,100 candidates demanded tickets and all are capable. “Similarly, for 9,000 seats in the local body elections, two lakh had demanded tickets but the remaining worked for the party. There is time for withdrawal and if they do not (withdraw), the party will take action and suspend them the same evening.”