February 5, 2021 3:02:35 am
The Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP) on Thursday springed a surprise by its list of 76 candidates for the Vadodara Municipal Corporation polls, with only 15 of the 58 sitting corporators getting another chance.
The party, which set a new bar with age limit of 60 and not considering relatives of party-office bearers or leaders for plum posts, has, however, awarded couple of tickets to “dynasts”.
The 15 corporators who got another chance include Satish Patel who served as the Standing Committee Chairman of the outgoing VMC board, Dr Rajesh Shah, Ajit Dadich, Tejal Vyas, Jayshree Solanki, Hemisha Thakkar who was the youngest corporator, Nitin Donga, Rita Singh, Manish Pagar, Jhelum Choksi, Poonam Shah, Kalpesh Patel, Alpesh Limbachiya and Nilesh Rathod who was also the party whip in the General Board.
The party has chosen younger candidates, eliminating all corporators above 55 years. Dr Rajesh Shah, who runs a homeopathy clinic and is the manufacturer of homoeopathic products under the banner Nikir Health Care, has been given a second chance. His firm had provided a bulk of immunity medicine during the Covid-19 preventive drive undertaken by the VMC in May-June 2020.
The list includes some renowed faces from the party as first-time contestants, including Dr Sheetal Mistry, nodal medical officer of the Gujarat Medical Education and Research Society (GMERS)-run Gotri Covid-19 hospital, and party Vadodara general secretary Keyur Rokadia who was earlier the chairman of the VMC School Board and is currently member of the Fee Regulation Committee (FRC) of Vadodara.
Rajesh Prajapati, son of former Congress mayor Dalsukh Prajapati, who joined the BJP ahead of the assembly polls in 2017 from Ward 8 as well as Shailesh Patil from Ward 17, who is said to be a relative of Surat MLA Sangita Patil have also made it to the list.
The decision of the party to give Patil a chance has caused a rebellion in the Ward 17 unit of the party with members threatening to resign. But senior leaders assured that the “matter would be resolved in the larger interest of the party”.
The list also includes Shrirang Ayare — son of heavy weight Rajesh Ayare, who has returned to the BJP fold after six years. Rajesh parted ways with the BJP in May 2015 and joined the Rashtriya Samaj Paksh (RSP) that won Ward 9 with four seats in the civic polls held in December that year. His wife, Poornima, was also a corporator from the same ward.
Rajesh was suspended from the BJP in April 2015 following a police case in which he was accused of vandalising and sabotaging a VMC event where then Cabinet Minister Saurabh Patel was the chief guest.
“The exclusion of Ayare is a surprise but it could be due to the age factor. The party factions had gone up in arms against his return to the party and so it was evident that he would not be given all four seats of Ward 9,” said a senior BJP leader in Vadodara
Among the surprise exclusions are sitting corporator Dipak Shrivastav, who is the son of Waghodia MLA Madhu Shrivastav, known for his flamboyance. Madhu had demanded three tickets, party leaders said, but the decision to eliminate his son from the list has left MLA Shrivastav disappointed. Late on Thursday evening, Shrivastav said, “I have served the BJP for long. I am hopeful they will correct this injustice. If not, I will decide the future course of action.”
Vadodara Lok Sabha MP Ranjan Bhatt’s sister Panna Desai has also been denied a second term.
The list has seen a return of Dr Hitendra Patel, who served as Standing Committee Chairman during the previous term of the VMC from 2010-2015.
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