A day after stating that she was in talks with the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) seeking its support, Patidar quota leader-turned politician Reshma Patel, alias Reshma Kaneriya, filed her nomination papers as an Independent candidate for the Porbandar Parliamentary constituency on Monday.
Accompanied by her supporters, 33-year-old Reshma went to the office of the district collector of Porbandar, who is returning officer, and submitted her nomination papers on Monday. She is the third Independent candidate to file nomination papers for the Porbandar seat, besides Bhanubhai Odedra and Ranjit Vinzuda.
She told The Indian Express she could not wait any longer for the NCP to clear its stand. “Nomination papers for the Lok Sabha seat can be filed till April 4 only. I was in talks with the NCP to secure their support for my candidature. The NCP and Congress are also in talks for an alliance. Since, the picture of alliance is not clear, I filed my nomination papers,” she said.
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Patel was a member of Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS), an organisation floated by Hardik Patel – who recently joined Congress – for launching an agitation in the state demanding the community be recognised as Other Backward Classes (OBC) and given resultant benefits of reservation in government jobs and institutes of higher education. However, she had fallen out with Hardik and PAAS in the run up to the Assembly elections in the state in 2017 and joined the BJP in October that year. But on March 15 this year, Reshma had quit the BJP, alleging that the party was merely using its workers to market its hollow schemes. The same day, she had announced that she would contest the Lok Sabha election from Porbandar and had sought support from the Congress and NCP for her candidature. She had said that in case no mainstream political party supports her in the Lok Sabha poll, she would contest as an Independent, simultaneously participating in the bypoll to Manavadar Assembly seat.
On Monday, Reshma, who hails from Manavadar taluka in Junagadh dsitrict, said she was still hopeful of the NCP support for the byelection.
“I am hopeful that the NCP will support me in the Manavadar Assembly bypoll. However, if that does not come through, I shall file my nomination papers as an Independent for the Assembly seat also,” Reshma said.
Manavadar Assembly seat had fallen vacant last month after sitting Congress MLA Jawahar Chavda resigned and defected to the BJP. Chavda is now Minister of Tourism and Fisheries and the BJP has allotted him a ticket to seek reelection from the same seat. The bypoll is scheduled to be held simultaneously with the Lok Sabha polls on April 23. Manavadar Assembly seat is part of Porbandar Lok Sabha constituency.
Reshma’s candidature sets a triangular contest in Porbandar. The BJP has nominated Ramesh Dhaduk, a new face as its sitting MP Vitthal Radadiya is ailing. The Congress has given ticket to Lalit Radadiya, the former Saurashtra-zone convenor of PAAS, who is now sitting Congress MLA from Dhoraji Assembly constituency in Rajkot district. Dhoraji Assembly seat is also part of the Porbandar Parliamentary constituency.
Kutch MP files papers from same seat
Kutch MP Vinod Chavda also filed his nomination papers as a BJP nominee for the same Lok Sabha seat. Before filing his papers, Vinod, who is an advocate by profession, organised an election meeting where Chief Minister Vijay Rupani was also present. Addressing the meeting, Rupani expressed confidence that the BJP would retain all the 26 seats in the state.
Contesting his maiden major election, Vinod had defeated Dinesh Parmar of Congress by more than two lakh votes from the Kutch Lok Sabha seat in 2014.