At least three disgruntled BJP leaders from Surat filed their nominations as Independent candidates on Tuesday, the last date of filing papers for the first phase of Assembly polls on December 9. One of them alleged that the party had sold ticket to “an undeserving candidate for crores of rupees”. Kunwarji Halpati, chairman of Halpati Gram Gruh Nirman Board, resigned from the BJP and filed his nomination as an Independent from Mandvi and Mangrol seats.
Former municipal councillor Bhimji Patel, who accused the BJP of selling ticket, and Ajay Choudhary, who hails from Bihar, filed their nominations as Independents from Karanj and Choryasi seats, respectively.
Halpati had sought ticket from BJP to contest from Mandvi, but the party gave ticket to Praveen Chaudhary. “Till now, the BJP was claiming that the Congress was playing caste politics. But, even the BJP is playing this kind of politics as it has given importance to only Vasava community. There are 10 lakh of voters of Halpati community in south Gujarat, and BJP has not given a single ticket to anybody from the community,” said Halpati.
About contesting from two seats, he said both Mandvi and Mangrol has second highest number of voters from the Halpati community. “State cabinet minister Ganpat Vasava and BJP MP from Bardoli Prabhu Vasava were insecure of me. But, I have support from tribals and other communities as well,” said Halpati. Patel has accused the party of selling the ticket to municipal councillor Praveen Ghoghari “for crores”.
“Ghoghari is also a Patidar, but he paid crores to the party for the ticket. The party should have given ticket to an active worker, not Ghoghari who has done nothing for public,” Patel said.
Chaudhary, however, said he was still a BJP worker. “But, I don’t hold any party post now. I am contesting the first election of my life for the north Indians in Surat,” he said, adding that the “arrogance of the BJP leaders” who did not support the demand of a daily train to Bihar and UP, forced him to contest as an Independent.