Contrary to speculations, Jaiman Upadhaya of the BJP was elected mayor of Rajkot city on Monday while Darshita Shah was elected as the deputy. Congress also fielded its candidates for the twin elections but they were defeated by majority votes.
Health Minister Nitin Patel, who is minister in charge of Rajkot district held a meeting with all the 38 newly elected corporators of Rajkot Municipal Corporation (RMC) minutes before meeting of general board of the civic body. Patel opened a sealed envelop sent by parliamentary board of Gujarat BJP which mandated corporators to elect 62-year-old Upadhyay as the 19th mayor of Rajkot. The same envelop also had Darhita Shah’s name for the post of deputy mayor and Pushkar Patel for chairman of the standing committee.
The choice of Upadhyay came as surprise to many since names of outgoing chairman of standing committee, Nitin Bhardwaj and general secretary of Rajkot city unit of the BJP, Nitin Shukla had been doing rounds for the top post since the Saffron party managed to retain power in RMC in the November 22 polls. While Bhardwaj is believed to be close to Water Supply Minister Vijay Rupani, who is also resident and an MLA from the city, Shukla is also a heavyweight in the city politics.
However, soon after Upadhyay’s name was declared, Bhardwaj and Shukla hugged him and congratulated for becoming the choice of the party. Minister of State for Science and Technology, Govind Patel, Gujarat Municipal Finance Board chairman Dhansukh Bhanderi, Gujarat Pavitra Yatradham vice chairman Raju Dhruv and Bhikha Vasoya, president of Rajkot city unit of the BJP were present at the meeting where the party mandate was announced.
Minutes after the meeting got over, the special meeting of newly elected general board of the RMC began to elect mayor, deputy mayor and 12 members of standing committee of the civic body. Outgoing deputy mayor Uday Kangad of the BJP was elected interim presiding officer of the general board to conduct the business of the meeting by defeating Atul Rajani of the Congress.
As the proceedings began, senior Congress corporator Vashram Sagathiya submitted an application to the interim chair demanding voting for electing mayor and deputy mayor be kept confidential. Congress apparently sensed an opportunity to sway some votes given the ruling BJP has a slender majority of just two corporators in the 72 member general board of the RMC. The BJP has 38 corporators and Congress 34.
However, Kandgad did not accede. “Residents of the city have already given their verdict and I do not see any need for a confidential voting for this election,” Kangad stated while rejecting the Congress demand.
Bhardwaj, who was seated in the front row of treasury benches proposed Upadhyay’s name as mayoral candidate of the BJP. Shukla, who was seated beside Bhardwaj seconded the proposal. On the other hand, Rajani proposed name of Jayanti Butani as Congress candidate for mayor’s post and senior Sagathiya seconded it. However, Bhardwaj defeated his Congress rival by getting support of 37 corporators against 34 for Butani in the voice vote.
A four-time corporator, Upadhyay has had three stints as chairman of standing committee of RMC between 2007 and 2013. An Ayurveda practitioner by profession, he was reelected from Ward 14 of RMC in the November 22 polls. He had got 13,719 votes, the highest in the ward. He succeeds Raksha Boliya whom party had denied ticket for contesting the civic body poll.
In the election for the post of deputy mayor, 46-year-old Shah, who is grand daguther of late RSS leader PV Doshi defeated Congress nominee Bhavna Sorani. A pathologist by profession, the November 22 election was her deubt. She replaced Kangad.
The general board meeting also named 12 members of standing committee. Pushkar Patel was named chairman of the committee while Bhardwaj, Shukla and Kamlesh Mirani were repeated as members.
“We want to turn Rajkot into a smart city. The world is progressing, doing something new. Why should Rajkot be left behind? The residents of Rajkot will thank us all and be happy if we could make Rajkot a smart city not the basis of majority but by concensus,” Bhardwaj said in his brief address to the meeting.
However, in a sing of what lay in store for the BJP, the general ended in commotion with Congress corporators trying to raise the issue disruption in supply of drinking water in the city. After the election of members of standing committee, Rajani stood up to congratulate the new mayor and deputy mayor. But he sought to draw the attention of the ruling party to disruption in water supply in 14 wards of the city on Monday due to a breach in supply network. “We shall take care of it. But please spare this meeting. It has not been convened to discuss this issue,” the mayor said asking staff to start playing Vande Mataram even as Congress corporators shouted in disapproval.
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