March 6, 2021 9:58:22 am
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Congress are trying to woo Independents as neither of them has got clear majority in six taluka panchayats (TPs) in Saurashtra where both the parties have got either equal number of seats or are short of majority in the results announced on March 2.
Four of these TPs were under Congress control and two under the BJP rule before the 2021 polls.
Polling for 83 TPs and 12 district panchayats and 73 municipalities in Saurashtra was held on February 28. The Congress was routed, as it could win only 12 TPs and only two municipalities while drawing a blank district panchayats. But election to Upleta taluka panchayat (TP) in Rajkot, Manavadar and Vanthali (TPs) in Junagadh district, Jamjodhpur and Kalavad TPs in Jamnagar district and Lilia TP in Amreli district have thrown up hung verdict.
Of the 18 seats in Upleta TP, BJP and Congress have won eight each while two have gone to Independents—Pravinaben Humbal has won Kharachiya seat and Kadviben Vavnotiya has won from Talgana seat.
In Jamjodhpur, Congress has won nine seats against BJP’s seven but is still one seat short of simple majority in 18-member general board of the TP even as the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) has bagged the remaining two seats.
In the neighbouring Kalavad TP, BJP has won eight seats, Congress seven, Aam Admi Party (AAP) two and one has gone to Independent Parmeshwariba Jadeja in Mota Vadala. In Manavadar, BJP won eight, Congress seven and Independent one, while in Vanthali and Liliya, both the BJP and Congress have won eight seats each and therefore are one seat short in the 16-member general boards there.
Of the six TPS, Upleta, Kalavad, Lilia and Vanthali were ruled by Congress while Jamjodhpur and Manavadar were under BJP’s control. In wake of they failing to secure majority seats in the election, both the parties are trying to woo Independents.
Bhavesh Patel, president AAP unit for Jamnagar district said his party has decided not to support BJP or Congress. “As decided by our state president Gopal Italia, our two members in Kalavad taluka would not support any party and instead would remain in Opposition,” Patel said.
Independent Parmeshwariba Jadeja’s husband Kuldeepsinh said they have not taken a final decision on supporting any party. “Both the BJP and the Congress have approached us… But we have not made up our mind yet,” Kuldeepsinh said.
In Jamjodhpur, Congress MLA Chirag Kalariya said he was confident of getting BSP support. “We have already contacted the BSP and they have assured us of their support. We are confident of gaining control of the TP,” said Kalariya.
Ashok Chavda, president of Gujarat state unit of BSP, however, said his party had not made up its mind on supporting any party in Jamjodhour. “We have summoned our two victorious candidates from Jamjodhpur to Ahmedabad. We have not yet decided to extend support to Congress or BJP,” he said.
In Upleta, both BJP and Congress are vying for control. “We are confident of getting power in Upleta as Pravinaben is daughter-in-law of our senior worker Babubhai Humbal. She had contested as Independent after we could not give her ticket but after the election, Babubhai contacted us,” Mansukh Khachariya, president of Rajkot district unit of BJP, said. Lalit Vasoya, Congress MLA from Dhoraji whose Assembly constituency covers Upleta TP claimed Congress had the support of the other Independent. “Kadviben Vavnotiya’s husband Ramshibhai has been a supporter of Congress and we are certain that we shall win power in the TP,” said Vasoya.
he Indian Express could not reach Babu Humbal, Pravina Humbal and Vavnotiya.
In Vanthali and Manavadar, BJP and Congress are locked in an equally intense tussle. “While we don’t have majority, we are confident of getting power in both the TPs,” Kirit Patel, president of Junagadh district unit of BJP, said.
Claiming confidence in getting the support of Independent Urmila Bhalani, Natu Pokiya, Congress’s Junagadh district unit president, said, “We shall field our candidates in both TPs and fight the BJP in a democratic way.”
But Bhalani’s father-in-law Ramesh Bhalani said they had not made up their mind but added: “We have been supporter of Jawahar Chavda (the sitting BJP MLA form Manavadar and a Minister) and we go by his advise,” said Ramesh.
Jawahar Chavda was sitting Congress MLA from Manavadar when he quit the party and defected to the BJP in 2019.
In Congress-ruled Lilia, Kaushik Vekariya, president of Amreli district unit of BJP, said, “We are trying whatever we can to win a majority in Lilia TP and we are sure, we will prove our majority in the general board.”
But Congress’s Amreli district unit president Dhirajlal Raiyani said, “We are fighting in a democratic way.” Government officers said that in event of a tie in the election for the posts of presidents and vice presidents, winners will be decided by draw of lots.
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