Updated: February 12, 2021 7:38:57 pm
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has chosen 31 candidates from the Muslim community in Bharuch district for the district, taluka panchayats and municipality elections scheduled to be held on February 28.
This is the highest number of tickets given to Muslims in this district by the BJP so far, says district unit president Marutisinh Atodariya. Some of the nominees were with the Congress earlier.
The district has a sizeable number of Muslim votes apart from tribal votes. The Congress was in power the district panchayat with its ally founded by Chhotubhai Vasava, the Bharatiya Tribal Party (BTP), which has now allied with the Asaduddin Owaisi led All-India Majlis-e-Ittehadul-Muslimeen (AIMIM). Owaisi held his first public meeting in Bhar-uch on February 7 where he called upon Muslims, Dalits, tribals and OBC voters to support the BTP.
On Wednesday night, state BJP released the names of 320 candidates of the nine taluka panchayats, four nagar palikas, and the district panchayat of Bharuch district, in south Gujarat. Among the 31 Muslim candidates, which includes 17 women, the highest number of eight tickets is for Bharuch taluka panchayat elections.
A few days ago, Congress leader from Vagra in Bharuch, Imran Bhatti, joined the BJP along with 200 supporters and they were felicitated by Atodariya and BJP MLA from Vagra Arunsinh Rana. Bhatti is among those who is contesting on a BJP ticket from one seat in the Vagra taluka panchayat.
Atodariya told The Indian Express, “This time AIMIM has also entered the poll fray but people will not give them votes. Even when senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel was around, we did not face any problems… this time, we will win by a bigger margin. BTP has only presence in few areas… We are confident of gaining power in Bharuch district panchayat.”
Ahmed Patel, who was three-time Lok Sabha MP from Bharuch and five-time MP in the Rajya Sabha, belonged to Piraman village in Bharuch, passed away in 2020 due to Covid-19 complications.
While the Congress was in power in the Bharuch district panchayat, BJP ruled the Bharuch Nagarpalika, Ankleshwar Nagarpalika, and Jambusar Nagarpalika. The Congress was in power in the Amod Nagarpalika. Out of nine taluka panchayats in the district, BJP ruled six , while BTP ruled on three — Netrang, Walia and Zaghadia.
Atodariya said, “Earlier we had fewer Muslim candidates but in the past five years, a large number of Muslim people have turned BJP supporters… so this time, the party has given tickets to 31 Muslim candidates — the highest so far. We will definitely get benefit from them and even the party will also get good leader among the Muslims in Bharuch.”
Talking to The Indian Express, Imran Bhatti said, “I was with the Congress for long but was not not given a ticket. On January 27, I joined the BJP that has shown faith in me by giving me a ticket. I belong to Vasti Khandali village, which has 2,000 voters… I will convince the people that if they want roads, water and drainage, they have to vote for BJP. I became an orphan at the age of 15 and was raised by these villagers… they give me great respect… not just Muslims but tribals and Hindus.”
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