Former minister and Koli strongman from Saurashtra, Parshottam Solanki created ripples in political circles on Tuesday by holding a meeting of leaders of his community in Gandhinagar and reportedly demanded a ministerial berth for one of the leaders from his community in the state government.
Around 200 leaders of Koli community from all the districts of the state met at Koli Samaj Ni Vadi in Sector-IV of Gandhinagar to discuss issues of the community. Besides 53-year-old Solanki, his MLA brother Hira Solanki, BJP MLA from Valsad Bharat Patel and president of Gondal municipality Chandu Dabhi were present at the meeting held between 10 am and 12.30 pm. Representatives from Surat, Junagadh and other districts also attended the meeting.
“The main item on the agenda of the meeting was to improve facilities for students living in Koli Samaj Ni Vadi in Gandhinagar. The community leaders also demanded that it should get at least one ministerial berth when state Cabinet is expanded. There are 12 Koli MLAs in the state who have been elected on BJP tickets. But there is not a single minster from the community in the present Cabinet,” Hira Solanki told The Indian Express over phone after the meeting.
Solanki was Minister of State for Fisheries in the then Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi government till late 2012. After the election where he defeated then Congress Legislature Party leader Shaktisinh Gohil from Bhavnagar Rural Assembly constituency, Solanki was made Minister of State for Labour and Employment. However, when Anandiben Patel became the CM this May as Modi moved to Delhi to become the prime minister of the country, “tainted” Solanki was not given a place in the new Cabinet.
Solanki’s image had taken a beating in 2009 when one Irshad Maradia alleged corruption in awarding Rs 400 crore worth of fishing contracts in the state. Months before Assembly elections, the Gujarat High Court had upheld then Governor’s sanction to prosecute Solanki in the fishing contracts case. Despite the legal tangle, Solanki had succeeded to win the December 2012 Assembly polls for the fifth time and also retain his place in new government formed by Modi.
In 2013, Solanki had been hospitalised in Mumbai for a long period and reappeared in public during Navratri festival. Sources close to him said that he had been enjoying good health of late.
Despite repeated attempts, Solanki could not be reached for his comment.