The recently-concluded elections to the Kamrej Sugar Co-operative Society saw one group of the BJP’s district unit wrest a majority of seats from the rival group.
BJP leader Afzalkhan Pathan, who belongs to the camp of Ashwin Patel, former president of the Surat district panchayat, defeated the incumbent chairman of the co-operative society Jayesh Patel, who headed the rival group.
Pathan is in the race for the vice-chairman post of the society, while Ashwin Patel’s name has been proposed for the chairperson post.
The results of the elections to 13 out of 18 seats of the Kamrej Sugar Co-operative society was declared on Sunday. The winners to the remaining five seats were declared uncontested.
There are around 5500 sugarcane growing farmers of Olpad, Mangrol, Mandvi, Bardoli and Kamrej in Surat district, who are registered members of the co-operative society. The annual turnover of the Kamrej cooperative is around Rs 145 crore.
The registered farmers cast their votes to elect board of directors of the society on Saturday. The 13 seats to which elections conducted are Ghala, Kathor, Wav, Pipodara, Mota Varachha, Arthan, Bodhan, Kamrej, Dighas, Jokha, Olpad, Limbada and one seat reserved for Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe.
Ashwin Patel, who contested from Kamrej seat, won with a margin of 70 votes, while Jayesh Patel, who contested from Pipodara seat, but lost by 94 votes.
There was tie on Wav seat, with both Kanti Patel, and Praveen Desai getting 40 votes. Later Kanti Patel, was declared winner after a draw of lots.
As many as 11 candidates from Ashwin Patel’s group won, while only two candidates from the Jayesh Patel’s camp managed to win.
On Monday, the elected board of directors participated in the meeting, to discuss for the polling for the posts of chairman and vice chairman of the society. After the meeting it was decided that on Thursday, the elected members will cast vote before returning officer.
Pathan had had won in the Surat district Panchayat election in 2015 from Limdayat-Bhatkol seat as BJP candidate. BJP had made him ruling party leader with Surat district panchayat.
The Surat district court, had in May 2018, convicted Pathan and four others to 10 years’ imprisonment, in a case under IPC 326, at Kosamba police station, in 2011. Pathan later stepped down from the post of BJP ruling party president with Surat district panchayat.
Pathan moved an application for suspension of the sentence before Gujarat High Court. The high court had accepted his application and granted him bail in July 2018, till further hearing.
Talking to the Indian Express Pathan said, “It is for the first time that a Muslim has been elected to Kamrej co-operative society board. Under the guidance of Ashwin Patel, I contested the election. I am thankful to the sugarcane farmers of the cooperative society.”
Jayesh Patel said that he lost the election due to “internal fight among the BJP leaders.”
“During last five years, we have given corruption-free administration. Before my term as the chairman, the co-operative society was having deficit to the tune of Rs 14.8 crore. Last year, we brought Kamrej society to the second position in the sale of sugar in south Gujarat,” he added.
Ashwin Patel said that the reason behind debacle of Jayesh patel, was that “farmers were unhappy with his mode of functioning.”
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