Underlining that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) had 1.13 crore workers in the state and a strong file of leaders, newly-appointed state BJP president C R Paatil on Friday said his party would not have to import any leaders from other party from now on.
“We have an army of 1.13 crore workers. We also have ranks of leaders who are very experienced and enjoy high reputation in society. Therefore, it is now certain that we will not have to import anyone,” Paatil said in response to a question.
The BJP leader was addressing a press conference on the third and last day of his maiden visit to Saurashtra after being appointed state BJP chief last month.
His statement comes two days after his reported remarks at Somnath on Wednesday that the BJP was an atmanirbhar (self-reliant) party and that leaders and workers from other political parties were not welcome anymore.
However, when asked if five of the eight Congress MLAs who joined the BJP in the run up to the recent Rajya Sabha election in the state would get BJP tickets to contest the impending bypoll, Paatil said some candidates were certain and termed that as a ‘limitation’.
He said: “Our effort will be to win all the eight seats. But there are a few limitations, like some candidates are certain… whom we cannot change nor do we want to change. But whoever we have as our candidates, we have started efforts to win all the eight seats with them.”
Incidentally four Congress MLAs from Saurashtra region, three from south Gujarat region and one from Kutch region had resigned from Congress and had upset plans of the Opposition party to win two seats of Rajya Sabha from the state recently. The BJP had managed to win three seats, while Congress could salvage one even as senior Congress leader and former Union minister Bharatsinh Solanki suffered a defeat.
Amid this camp jumping, Paatil said that during his Saurasthra visit, he had warned party workers against indulging in groupism. “There would be some groups, big and small, in any political party. But I have conveyed a clear message to workers and party leaders that we shall not tolerate groupism of any sort. I have also asked workers not to join any group… party posts and responsibilities would be decided on basis of merit. I have told them not to be under the impression that they would get some position because of some connections or on recommendation of a particular leader,” said Paatil.
He said that decisions of ticket allocation and party offices are taken by parliamentary board of the BJP but added that party workers would be given high importance during his time at the helm of the party’s Gujarat state unit.
Paatil said that while his immediate priority was to win civic body polls and by-election to eight Assembly seats, the bigger target was to win all the 182 Assembly seats in the state in 2022 general election.
“A few would consider it outlandish but we are approaching these elections with a resolve to win all the 182 seats of the Assembly. Our confidence oozes from the fact that BJP workers have won all the 26 Lok Sabha seats of Gujarat not once but twice over,” Paatil said.
While he has drawn large crowds in Talala, Somnath, Junagadh, Khodaldham and in Rajkot city over the past two days, the BJP president claimed he had not violated state government’s ban on public gathering due to Covid-19 pandemic. “We have not organised any rally… If some president comes visiting and three persons are driving in his car and 100 other car joins his convoy but with only three people driving in each of them, it can’t be called a julus or rally. It doesn’t fall in the definition of a rally as only three people are in a car, they have their mask on and they don’t assemble in a group,” he said, adding he would visit Ahmedabad, north Gujarat region and then Bhavnagar and Amreli in coming days.
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