Updated: March 18, 2021 10:56:14 am
The Godhra Municipality saw 17 of its 18 independent councillors joining hands with the All India Majlis-e-Ittehad-ul-Muslimeen (AIMIM) to form the board on Wednesday, leaving the Bharatiya Janta party (BJP) out of the race. The BJP and independents had 18 seats each in the 44-seat municipality and needed five more to reach the majority figure of 23. While one independent councillor returned to the BJP fold, 17 independents formed the board with unconditional’ support extended by seven AIMIM councillors and one Congress councillor.
On Wednesday, a scuffle broke out as BJP leaders and independent councillors clashed before the process of elections of the president and vice president began but police present at the spot controlled the situation.
Independent councillors staked claim to form the board with a majority of 25 seats — 17 independents, 7 AIMIM and one Congress councillor.
Sanjay Soni, a third term councillor, who was also leading the group ahead of the formation of the board was elected President and Akram Patel, another independent candidate became the vice-president.
Soni told this newspaper that while the working experience with AIMIM will be new for everyone, they are looking forward to it. “We knew we couldn’t support the BJP in forming the board. The last two and a half years that they were in power, they did not execute a single planned development work. The AIMIM is new and we are all surprised that it emerged as a kingmaker here but we are looking forward to their support. They have extended unconditional support and not sought any positions in the municipality,” Soni said.
Of the 18 independent councillors, first time contestant Sejal Soni returned to the BJP — Soni’s father in law Deepak Soni had broken away from the BJP after being denied a ticket and fielded Sejal as an independent. Of the 18 independents, 11 belong to the minority community which dominates the vote share in the municipality. The seven AIMIM councillors are also from the minority community.
The Election department is yet to decide on two complaints filed by the BJP and the independents against one councillor in each other’s fold over the issue of two child policy. While the BJP has contended that an independent female councillor has concealed that she has more than two children, the independents have also filed a case against a BJP councillor on the same grounds. Both the councillors voted in Wednesday’s election.
The petition filed against another BJP councillors by the Congress party during the nomination process in February, seeking disqualification of two BJP candidates (now elected councillors), who allegedly owed dues to the Municipality from their last term has, however, been dismissed.
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