Ahead of the upcoming assembly by-elections on the Kaprada and Dang seats, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) made a dent in the Congress camp when 11 elected representatives from Valsad district panchayat, Pardi taluka panchayat, as well as sarpanches of five villages and their 50 supporters defected to the BJP.
The by-elections were necessitated after Jitubhai Chaudhary, MLA from Kaprada seat in Valsad district, and Mangal Gavit, Congress MLA from Dang, left the Congress to join the BJP during the Rajya Sabha elections held in June. The Kaprada assembly seat comprises of parts of Pardi taluka panchayat, Vapi and Kaprada taluka.
The 11 members of Congress who switched over to BJP are Valsad district panchayat member Babliben Patel, members of Pardi taluka panchayat — Kokilaben Patel, Anjana Patel, Tarun Patel, and Abdul Wahid Qureshi, and sarpanches of different villages in Pardi taluka — Shailesh Patel (Pati), Naresh Patel (Arnali), Vinod Patel (Daheli), Vipul Patel (Chhiri) and Nilam Ahir (Dhagalmal), and deputy sarpanch of Arnali village, Shailesh Patel.
Around 50 supporters of these members also joined the BJP in a function held at Saidham hall in Panchlai area, Pardi taluka, on Wednesday.
Party South Gujarat incharge Bharatsinh Parmar, BJP MP from Valsad seat Dr KC Patel, Valsad district BJP president Kanu Desai, BJP leader and former Congress MLA from Kaprada seat, Jitubhai Chaudhary, Pardi taluka general secretary Praveen Patel and Pardi taluka BJP president Mahesh Desai were present. Parmar garlanded the leaders with saffron scarves.
Talking to The Indian Express, Pardi BJP president Mahesh Desai said, “We have welcomed the Congress leaders to our party… all of them were facing problems and injustice meted out by their leaders.”
Valsad district Congress leader Gauarav Pandya said, “Those who left the Congress were true to the party but they might have been lured by BJP leaders with various assurances. However, the voters of Kaprada seat are loyal to the Congress, irrespective of the candidates. I don’t think there would be any change in the voting pattern. The BJP men are also trying to lure elected Congress leaders from Ahwa, Subir, Vaghai taluka pachayat and Dang district panchayat… we are trying our best to thwart their efforts.”
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