BJP leaders on Wednesday put up a united face as Geeta Rathwa filed her nomination for the Chhota Udepur Lok Sabha seat, despite several of them being disgruntled at the party picking her over leaders such as sitting MP Ramsinh Rathwa and district president Jashu Rathwa as well as Jetpur MLA Jayanti Rathwa, who had also deemed himself a strong candidate.
Sources said that state BJP president Jitu Vaghani reprimanded Ramsinh Rathwa, who had openly made his displeasure known at having been dropped for the upcoming polls, as well as Jayanti Rathwa, who had made anti-party statements and announced earlier that he would file his nomination as an independent candidate.
Falling in line, Ramsinh Rathwa and Jayanti Rathwa in fact flanked the candidate as she filed her nomination at the office of the District Electoral Officer (DEO).
Chief Minister Vijay Rupani, who was to have kicked off a road show in support of Geeta enroute to the DEO’s office, however skipped the rally, making just a brief visit to address a public gathering.
Major preparations had been made for the chief minister’s presence at the rally, which was deemed crucial in the constituency where the Statue of Unity stands in Nandod taluka. However, it was Vaghani who led the road show and accompanied Geeta to the DEO’s office to file her nomination.
Rupani, whose speech was expected to boost the sagging morale of cadres that are disappointed by the party’s choice of candidate, stuck to his recent comparison of the election to a war with Pakistan.
Rupani mentioned Pakistan nine times in his 24-minute long speech and said, “This election is between India and Pakistan because it is Narendrabhai Modi who has given a fitting reply to Pakistan
after all these years of suffering terrorism. This is an election between chowkidars and chors, who are in connivance
Vaghani in his address to a crowd of mostly party workers stressed on the need for them to be united and not pay heed to the reports of division among cadres. “We have to win this seat and gift it to Narendra bhai (Modi), who is going to become the PM for the second term and change the fortunes of India,” he said.
Geeta, who has been a member of the District Panchayat of Chhota Udepur for the past five terms (including when the district was part of Vadodara until 2013), is the first fresh face fielded by the BJP for the seat since 1991.
In her affidavit, Geeta has identified herself as a homemaker without any monthly income. She has declared that she possesses cash of Rs 18,000, jewellery worth Rs 6 lakh, including Rs 4.9 lakh gold and Rs 90,000, given by her parents at the time of her wedding.
Geeta, who is the wife of BJP district Vice President Vajesinh Rathwa, however, has declared that her husband has assets worth Rs 80 lakh, including immovable property worth Rs 42 lakh.
Educated till the higher secondary level of schooling, Geeta joined the party in 1995 and went to become the president of BJP Mahila Morcha of Kawant in 1998, a post to which she was re-elected repeatedly till 2004. From 2004 to 2007 she served as vice president of the Mahila Morcha. She has served as chairman of the district panchayat of Vadodara in 2013-14, of the district panchayat health committee in 2011-13 and of the child development department of the district in 2014-15.