Newly-elected BJP councillors on Monday chose mayors, deputy mayors and standing committee chairpersons of all six municipal corporations, which the party had won in the recently-concluded local body polls in Gujarat.
The mayoral election in Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation was a solemn affair since the nominees had been pre-decided. Gautambhai Navalchand Shah (50) was elected the 40th mayor of AMC at the general board meeting. He succeeds Minaxi Patel. A commerce graduate, Navalchand first became a corporator in 2000. Considered close to BJP national president Amit Shah, Navalchand has been actively working in Naranpura from where he was elected this time. Amit Shah is MLA from Naranpura Assembly constituency. Deputy mayor Pramodaben Sutaria, BA in Hindi, is a familiar face in Ramapir Tekra of Vadaj. For the first time, a post of Whip was introduced in the AMC and Lalasinh Thakor was appointed to it. Pravin Patel (44) remained the AMC standing committee chairperson.
BJP opted for a first time corporator, 36-year-old Bharat Dangar, for the position of Vadodara mayor. Dangar was elected unopposed from Ward No. 12 after party defect to Congress Prafful Goswami withdrew his candidature. Dangar, BE in electrical engineering and Masters in microprocessor, is a faculty of technology and engineering at MS University. The saffron party nominated Yogesh Patel Mukti, a close aide of BJP MLA Yogesh Patel, for the post of VMC deputy mayor. A second-time corporator, Mukti was booked in February 2014 for assaulting VMC ward officer Jagmal Nandaniya during a drive against street vendors. Dr Jigisha Seth, an anesthetist who served her first term as corporator between 1995 and 2000, was chosen to lead the standing committee, a job she had earlier entrusted with in July 1999 for a year.
Commerce graduate Ashmita Shiroya (40) was appointed mayor of the Surat Municipal Corporation. A Patidar, she was elected from Varachha ward — also represented between 2005 and 2010. She was not given a ticket in the last local body elections. She was the vice president of BJP’s women’s wing in Surat city. While Shankar Chevali was elected as deputy mayor, Rajesh Desai was chosen for the position of standing committee chairman.
Contrary to speculation, Jaiman Upadhyay (62) was elected mayor of Rajkot city while Darshita Shah was made his deputy. Congress also fielded its candidates for the twin elections, but they were defeated by majority votes. Pushkar Patel was named chairman of the standing committee. Before the general body meeting, state Health Minister Nitin Patel, minister in-charge of Rajkot district, held a meeting with all 38-newly elected corporators. The choice of Upadhyay came as surprise to many since names of outgoing chairman of standing committee Nitin Bhardwaj and general secretary of Rajkot city unit of BJP Nitin Shukla had been doing rounds for the top post. A four-time corporator, Upadhyay had three stints as chairman of standing committee of RMC between 2007 and 2013. An Ayurveda practitioner, he was re-elected from Ward 14 in the November 22 polls. Meanwhile, the new members opted for Darshita Shah (46), a pathologist and grand daughter of late RSS leader PV Doshi, for the deputy mayor post.
Nimuben Bambhaniya was elected as the new mayor of Bhavnagar while Manbha Mori became her deputy. The post of mayor in the city, as per rota, was reserved for woman. A three-time corporator, Bambhaniya was mayor for a brief period between 2005 and 2006. She has also served as vice-president of the state BJP unit. She succeeds Babu Solanki who lost the civic body election. Suresh Dhandhaliya was elected new chairman of standing committee of BMC.
Pratibha Kankhara (53) became the new mayor of Jamnagar city overcoming a stiff competition from Bina Kothari, a two-term corporator, and also Dimple Raval, a debutante. A homemaker, Kankhara has studied till Class VII. Her husband Prakash is general secretary of Jamnagar city unit of BJP and runs an electrical goods store. Bharat Mehta, a two-term corporator, was elected deputy mayor, and Kamlasinh Rajput was made new chairman of standing committee of JMC.