The Congress on Thursday wrested power from the BJP in Dang district panchayat, taking its tally to 19 in the 31 district panchayats of state that went to polls this week. The election for the post of president and vice-president in Dang district panchayat was held on Thursday, a day after it was postponed as Congress and BJP members had come to blows over defection of some leaders.
The Congress won after BJP member Bibiben Ramesh Chaudhary defected to the party, taking its strength to 10 in the 18-member house where both the BJP and the Congress had nine members each. Bibiben is wife of Dang district BJP president Ramesh Chaudhary.
The Congress also improved its performance in the taluka panchayat elections in this tribal district bordering Maharashtra. The Congress wrested Subir taluka panchayat from the BJP, while retaining power at Waghai taluka. The BJP is now in power in only one taluka panchayat of the district —Ahwa.
The political situation in the Dangs took a U-turn on Wednesday when two Congress members, who had defected to the BJP two-and-half years ago, returned to the party fold. With BJP’s Bibiben also defecting to the Congress, the Congress’s strength rose to 10 in the House.
“Bibiben said that she wanted to become president of the district panchayat which was denied to her by the BJP. We agreed to her demand. We told her that she can become president. But vice-president and chairmen of all committees like education, road and building, health and executive committee will be from the Congress. She agreed to it and we extended our support to her,” said Dangs district Congress president Motibhai Chaudhary after she was elected president.
Fearing poaching by the BJP, the Congress had kept all its panchayat members at a Congress leader’s house on Wednesday night. “As there was fear of the Congress members being abducted and coerced to cross-vote, we took them to the residence of Congress leader Chanderbhai Somabhai Gavit at Nimbaipada village on the outskirts of Ahwa on Wednesday evening. All of them stayed for the night under police cover. On Thursday morning, they were taken to the election venue with their mini-bus escorted by the armed police vans,” the Congress leader added.
Bibiben was elected president unanimously as she got all the 18 votes. Surprisingly, all the eight BJP members voted in favour of Bibiben, including the BJP candidates who had filed nomination for the post of president and vice-president. The Congress candidate for vice-president, Harish Bachav, was also elected but with 10 votes.
“I had asked the BJP to make Bibiben panchayat president, but the party leadership rejected my request. Therefore, I contacted the Congress leaders who readily agreed to my proposal. I am happy that my wife has become president of Dangs district panchayat. It is a matter of pride for me,” Bibiben’s husband Ramesh Chaudhary said.
After her election Bibiben said that her priority will be to complete the unfinished projects. “I will work honestly and ensure that everyone in the district benefits from the government schemes,” she said.
Congress MLA Mangal Gavit reportedly played an important role in winning over Bibiben.