With just a few months left before the state goes to polls,cracks have appeared in BJP in the industrial district of Kutch apparently for control over the lucrative transport business there.
Rebellion is brewing against Bhuj MLA and Minister of State for Social Welfare Vasan Ahir who also heads the All Gujarat Truck Owners Association (AGTOA) with party councillor at the Kutch district panchayat Pradhyuman Sinh demanding his resignation from AGTOA.
Sinh has alleged that Ahir is using his clout for overloading trucks belonging to him and his relatives,leaving small-time transporters in the lurch. Sinh is the president of Kutch West Truck Owners Association (KWTOA).
Party insiders say KWTAO has been backed by another BJP MLA who yields considerable clout in mining and estate businesses in Kutch.
After two public meetings by KWTAO in Nakhatrana and Bhuj to press their demand for Ahirs resignation,the Kutch association has represented the matter to state Finance Minister Vaju Vala. KWTAO has threatened to launch an intensified agitation if their demand is not met.
At the heart of conflict is a controversial decision taken by the Kutch Truck Owners Association (KTOA),which is headed by Ahirs nephew Trikam,to discontinue the age-old draw-of-lots practice that used to decide the daily loading turn for nearly 8,000 truck owners registered with the district association.
The draw system was done away with nearly eight months ago following drop in business due to total closure of Pandhro coal mine and partial closure of Mata No Madh over the last four years. The move reduced the number of trucks ferrying coal and cement out of Kutch daily to 500 from 1,700.
When business has gone down considerably and the draw system has been scrapped,the minister and his relatives now get all the business. They also overload their trucks,leaving no business for small players, alleged Sinh,adding,Instead of following the rule of 17-tonne load per truck,the ministers trucks run with over 50 tonnes of coal or cement.
In last November,the district RTO had seized a truck owned by Ahirs son Navghan following several complaints of overloading.
If the minister will not resign as president of the association and the draw system is not restored,there will be an intense agitation, said Sinh.
When contacted,Ahir refused to comment.