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Gujarat: Influential Kshatriya leader Kuldeepsinh Raulji quits BJP, joins Congress

While BJP leaders refused to comment on the development, Raulji's rivalry with sitting BJP MLA Ketan Inamdar from Savli--who received endorsement for a third term from CR Paatil during his last visit to Savli--is said to be the reason behind his move.

Kuldeepsinh Raulji

In a blow to the BJP, Baroda Dairy director Kuldeepsinh Raulji, an influential leader from the Savli taluka, joined the Congress Friday ahead of the Gujarat Assembly polls due later this year. Raulji, who has been miffed with the party for a while, decided to part ways with the BJP as he was feeling “sidelined”.

While BJP leaders refused to comment on the development, Raulji’s rivalry with sitting BJP MLA Ketan Inamdar from Savli–who received endorsement for a third term from CR Paatil during his last visit to Savli–is said to be the reason behind his move.

“The BJP has not valued the contribution that I have made to the party in the elections in the past 10 years. Savli continues to lack development and the party is turning a blind eye to the inefficiency of the elected members. But the bigger issue was that of the lay-offs of several youths from companies located in Savli. Despite multiple requests made to the MLA (Inamdar) by the youth, he did nothing. The party has not intervened either,” Raulji told The Indian Express.

Raulji, who made his political plunge in the early 2000s after leading a milk union in Vejpur for several years, has been with the BJP since 2012. However, he has been a Director at Baroda Dairy since 2009, when he first won as an independent. Raulji is also irked about the protests led by Inamdar against Baroda Dairy. “I won the 2009 Baroda Dairy polls as an independent and became a director. In 2012, I won from the BJP’s panel for the first time… Despite my work for milk unions, he (Inamdar) has been orchestrating protests time and again over the issue of remuneration in the last six months… The BJP has not restrained him,” Raulji said.

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Raulji, who was the deputy sarpanch of Vejpur from 2003 to 2008, is a prominent Kshatriya leader in Savli and Desar where 67 per cent of the population is from the community. Raulji has also served as the Director of the Desar APMC from 2013 to 2016 and thereafter, as Vice President of the APMC until 2021.

His father, Udesinh Raulji was a Congress leader. Although Raulji says that his decision to join the Congress is “not only for a ticket for the Assembly polls”, his ambition for the ticket is known. In August, BJP Gujarat President CR Paatil visited Savli and called it a “safe seat”, hailing Ketan Inamdar’s work in the area causing the split to come to the fore with both Raulji and Inamdar trying to prove their might in the region.

Raulji, whose Dusherra rally was held after a tug-of-war over police permissions, adds, “At the Dusherra rally, I asked my supporters if they would stand with me if I contest from any party and I heard a resounding yes. So, I made this decision to join the Congress after taking a consensus from my supporters. But, no party can give a guarantee about a ticket already. The Congress has promised me that they will conduct a survey and choose the best candidate–something that is lacking in the BJP… I have already visited 275 of the 316 villages in the Savli constituency. So, why will the Congress not see my good work?”

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At the Dusherra rally, Raulji has also announced the opening of a community hall and plot (wadi) for the Kshatriya community, which will be given to people of all castes for their wedding celebrations.

While the Congress has welcomed Raulji with open arms — hoping to take on Inamdar in the upcoming polls, BJP leaders declined to comment on the party’s loss. Inamdar said, “The issues could have been resolved within the party. The BJP has not even declared a list of candidates; so, he has taken this step based on assumptions.”

First published on: 07-10-2022 at 11:43:27 pm
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