Ahead of the by-election to Dangs seat, two-time Congress MLA Mangal Gavit who quit the party, joined the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the presence of state minister, Ganpat Vasava, at an event in Ahwa, Dangs, on Sunday, which could give a twist to the contest.l
Gavit was reportedly in touch with state BJP leaders ahead of the Rajya Sabha elections in June when he was promised ticket to contest bypolls from Dangs seat. He submitted his resignation after the assurance, sources said. However, the BJP chose Vijay Patel to contest from Dangs.
After the Congress party nominated Suryakant Gavit from Dangs seat in an attempt to woo Christian voters, the BJP organised a meeting in Ahwa town on Saturday, chaired by state cabinet minister Ganpat Vasava, who welcomed Mangal Gavit and his supporters into the party on Sunday, at a function where Vijay Patel was also present.
Talking to The Indian Express, Mangal Gavit said, “I am happy that BJP leaders welcomed me to the party finally… I will work for the victory of BJP candidate Vijaybhai Patel. I am not unhappy that I was not given the ticket… my aim will be to work for the victory of BJP candidate in the bypolls.”
The BJP has won the Dangs seat only once in 2007 since it came to power, which was following the Shabri Kumbh organised in the district, when Patel won the seat. Gavit contested Assembly election for the first time in 2012 against sitting BJP MLA Vijay Patel and won by 2,422 votes. In 2017, the assembly fight was between same two candidates and again Gavit defeated Patel by 768 votes.
“Many Congress workers are unhappy after the party gave ticket to Suryakant Gavit… I will meet them and convince them to join the BJP… I left Congress as many development works that I wished to do in Dangs were not done,” Gavit added.
State BJP president and Navsari MP, CR Paatil, visited Dangs and held a meeting with the party leaders and workers, including BJP MLA from Surat west and in charge of Dangs seat, Purnesh Modi, and Vijay Patel on Monday.
The Dangs Assembly seat has over 40,000 Christians. Senior Congress leader and Dangs seat incharge, Gaurav Pandya, said, “Our election campaign is clear as we will tell people of Dangs whether they want a radical leader of their district or a secular leader… If a radical leader comes to power, there are chances of riots between tribals, Hindus and Christians. We will ask people whether they want peace or riots in Dangs…”
A total of 81 candidates are in the fray for bypolls to eight assembly seats in Gujarat scheduled to held on November 3. Monday was the last day for withdrawal of nominations, officials said.
The lowest number candidates is on the Kaprada (ST) seat where only four candidates are in the fray. With a total of 14 candidates, Limdi has the maximum number of contestants. The bypolls were warranted on the eight seats after sitting Congress MLAs deserted the party before the crucial Rajya Sabha polls in June.
All the five Congress MLAs who quit the party and later joined the BJP have been fielded by the saffron party for the bypolls. This includes Brijesh Merja (Morbi), Akshay Patel (Karjan), Jitu Chaudhary (Kaprada), JV Kakadiya (Dhari) and Pradyumansinh Jadeja (Abdasa), who will take on Congress candidates.
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