In Vadodara, two ‘bogeys’ come unstuck in BJP’s ‘double-engine’ campaign

The BJP has been harping on its “double-engine” government advantage but in Vadodara, the party’s two bogeys – Padra taluka (tehsil) and Padra Municipality attached to the engine have come unstuck.

If the BJP lost its majority in the Padra Municipality with 11 councillors resigning on Thursday, it was reduced to a minority in Padra taluka panchayat as 16 members quit the party. They have a common grouse, denial of ticket to Mr Dinesh Patel, fondly called Dinu Mama, now contesting as an Independent from Padra.

Three sitting BJP MLAs have turned rebels and two contesting as independents and one from Congress in Vadodara. They are two-time MLA Dinesh Patel from Padra, six-time legislator Madhu Srivastava from Waghodia and Baroda Dairy member Kuldeepsinh Raolji from Savli.

Further, 16 sitting MLAs have rebelled against the BJP and are contesting as Independents across Gujarat. Vadodara stands out as a representative of the situation since three of the five seats in the district have rebels.

On instructions from Union Home Minister Amit Shah, who is overseeing the party’s election activities, the BJP tried to cool off tempers, later suspended all when diplomacy did not work.

Notably, the BJP has dropped a total of 40 legislators in the outgoing assembly for the Dec 2022 election. In a major setback on Friday, 11 BJP councillors with the support of five others from the Rashtriya Samaj Paksha (RSP), a local party, have resigned and brought the ruling party to a minority in Padra municipality, where it has been in power since Feb 2021.

Mr Paresh Gandhi, a councillor, said, “Eleven BJP councillors resigned this week in support of Dinu Mama. We have the support of five councillors of RSP. After the Assembly poll, we will stake a claim as independents to form a board. The BJP has already suspended us, we are fine with it. Dinu Mama is our leader. The party is unfair, it denied him a ticket.”

The 11 BJP councillors also have the support of five councillors of the Rashtriya Samaj Paksha (RSP), making the majority number of 16 to stake claim to form an independent board in the municipality.

The 28-member Padra Municipality comprised 20 BJP members, backed by five RSP members and three independents. Losing 11 of the 20 members in the current rebellion, the BJP’s tally has been left to nine.

Dinu mama, a two-term MLA, whose election symbol is a pressure cooker, told reporters, “I had won as an independent candidate in 2007 and I am returning to my roots. Once I win, the Independents will form an independent board in the taluka panchayat and also the municipality.”

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