While Chief Minister Vijay Rupani has been campaigning on issues such as abrogation of Article 370, Citizenship Amend-ment Act and Ram temple for the upcoming by-elections, Congress turncoat Pradyumansinh Jadeja, who is the BJP candidate in Abdasa constituency of Kutch on the Indo-Pak border, chose to focus on agricultural produce market committees (APMCs), allegedly weakened by the recent legislations by the state and central governments.
In the Muslim dominated village of Amara, Jadeja, 56, told the people that if he loses the bypoll, BJP won’t be affected but development of the area would suffer. “BJP is ruling the taluka panchayat, district panchayat, Gujarat and Delhi… The government is very powerful and by always remaining in Opposition, development is suffering and people are migrating out of villages,” he said.
At Valka Mota, Jadeja said that so far, he was able to work only with his local area development fund (LADF) and added how Narmada water has already reached up to Rudramata dam and Mod Kuba, 100 km from the village. “This is not a long distance for the government to cover,” Jadeja said.
In Ratadiya village of Nakhtrana taluka on Tuesday, Jadeja said that Minister Vasan Ahir, Kutch MP Vinod Chavda, MLAs Nimaben Acharya, Malti Maheshwari and other BJP leaders had approached him ahead of the Rajya Sabha (RS) elections in June this year, seeking his “support”.
He said he agreed to support the BJP to resolve five issues — declaring GMDC College in Nakhtrana a government college, setting up APMCs in Nakhtrana and Kothara, setting up an industrial training institute (ITI) in Kothara, bringing Narmada water to Nakhtrana and regularising houses constructed on government land. “They said this will be done… So I said yes,” said Jadeja.
Jadeja was among the eight Congress MLAs who resigned ahead of the Rajya Sabha elections. Five of them, including Jadeja, later joined the BJP. “Of the five promises, three have already been fulfilled, including the GMDC college, twin APMCs and ITI,” Jadeja, a farmer, told voters.
His promise of setting up yards for the twin APMCs in Nakhtrana town and Kothara is in contrast to an ordinance promulgated by the state government in May this year, limiting the jurisdictions of APMCs to the physical boundaries of their yards. As a matter of fact, both the APMCs exist only on paper.
In Aiyar, a village dominated by Patidars, Jadeja told a small gathering that the bypoll result will be inconsequential for state government and the central government but very important for the people of Nakhtrana, Abdasa and Lakhpat talukas which form the Abdasa Assembly seat. “If we win this seat, we will benefit,” he said.
Abdasa constituency is dominated by voters from Muslim and Dalit communities while Patidars are also in significant number. But Jadeja is a Kshatriya. At his every meeting, Jadeja underlines that state government schemes don’t discriminate against beneficiaries on the basis of religion and that all communities had voted for him in 2017.
On why he doesn’t talk about the Ram mandir, CAA or Kashmir, he told The Indian Express, “People already know about these things and I need not talk about them.”
Jadeja is the second sitting Congress MLA from Abdasa to resign and defect to the BJP. In 2014, Chhabil Patel, then Congress MLA from Abdasa, resigned and joined the BJP. However, the saffron party has not managed to win this seat in the past 13 years. No MLA has managed to retain his seat in Abdasa in two decades.
“That won’t happen with me as unlike others who disappear from the public after getting elected, I have constantly been with the people… I’ve been visiting 444 villages in this constituency since I was elected three years ago,” he said.
Nakhtrana has also seen political rivalries turn violent. Jayanti Bhanushali, who was BJP MLA in 2007, was allegedly shot dead on board a moving train in January 2019. Chhabil Patel, who defeated Bhanushali in 2012 and defected to the BJP in 2014 is in jail in the case with police saying he had given a contract to kill the MLA.
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