TWO DAYS after the Congress overlooked him for a ticket to contest the bypoll to Morbi Assembly constituency, Kishor Chikhaliya, the incumbent president of Morbi district panchayat, on Thursday, defected to the BJP while alleging that Congress has “sold” the party mandate to Jayntilal Jayraj Patel. However, Congress hit back and said that Chikhaliya has often deviated from the party line and was therefore denied the ticket, whereas Patel has stood with the party through thick and thin.
Chilkhaliya turned up at the central election office of BJP candidate Brijesh Merja in Morbi town, on Thursday, where he was offered a BJP scarf by senior party leader IK Jadeja in the presence of Energy Minister Saurabh Patel and Rajkot BJP MP Mohan Kundariya.
Speaking to The indian Express, Chikhaliya alleged that the Congress had sold a ticket to Jayantilal Patel and he didn’t see any future in the party. “I was the deserving candidate to get the party ticket to contest this bypoll. I have been slogging for Congress for the past 20 years and stuck to my guns, even when Merja had defected to the BJP. I deserved the party ticket. Instead, Hardik Patel and Lalit Kagathara sold the ticket to Jayanti Jayaraj,” said 52-year-old Chikhaliya.
“I had complained to the Leader of Opposition, Paresh Dhanani, and Congress chief Amit Chavda and demanded justice, but they couldn’t overrule Hardik and Kagathara. I realised that there is no future for me in Congress and that I would be able to serve people in a better way if I was with the ruling party. Therefore, I joined the BJP,” he added. Kagathara is the sitting Congress MLA from Tankara constituency in Morbi district and also the president of Morbi district unit of the party.
Chikhaliya was the lone Congress winner from Morbi district in the 2010 district panchayat election.
Chikhaliya, who has studied till class 10 and runs a factory of manufacturing roasted peanuts and gram, added. “I am sure that Jayanti Kavadiya and Kundariya will look after me and my future in the BJP.”
Kavadiya is the senior BJP leader who was a minister until a few years ago. Congress had announced Jayntilal Patel, an industrialist and president of Morbi Chamber of Commerce and Industry, as its candidate for the Morbi bypoll on Monday.
Kagathara said that Chikhaliya had gone against the party line thrice in the recent past. The Congress president also denied charge of him selling the ticket. “If any voter in Tankara or Morbi can prove that he had to give me even Rs 50 for getting his work done, I shall quit politics,” said Kagathara.
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