BJP, Congress face opposition from `disgruntled` members in Gujarat

BJP and Congress on Friday faced protests from disgruntled members over the selection of candidates for the Lok Sabha polls.

Ahmedabad: BJP and Congress on Friday faced protests from disgruntled members over the selection of candidates for the Lok Sabha polls.

Congress saw opposition regarding the selection of candidates for the Ahmedabad-West (SC), Kutch (SC) and Banaskantha seats and ruling BJP in Mehsana, Dahod and Kheda.

Both BJP and Congress have announced nominations for 21 of the total 26 seats.

After Congress nominated Ishwar Makwana for Ahmedabad-West (SC) seat, sitting party MLA from Dariyapur Gyasuddin Shaikh raised his objection. In his representation to Gujarat Congress leaders, Shaikh claimed that Makwana is an `imported` candidate.

"Makwana is basically from BJP and hails from Mehsana. When we already have strong Dalit leaders here, what was the need to import such candidates," asked Shaikh, referring to former IPS officer Rajan Priyadarshi and former IAS officer P K Valera. Both of them joined Congress after retirement.

"Both Priyadarshi and Valera are very learned and dedicated leaders. We have suggested their names for Ahmedabad West seat. However, since it didn`t happen, I expressed my dissatisfaction to the high command," he said.

Similarly, some Congress workers are unhappy over its candidate for Kutch seat that is reserved for the SC category. After the selection of Jamnagar-based Dinesh Parmar for the seat, local Dalit leaders as well as supporters of other `hopeful` candidates approached Kutch Congress president Navalsinh Jadeja yesterday to register their protest.

However, Jadeja is unfazed by the protests. "Some of our leaders and workers approached me and conveyed their concern to me. But I believe that our Dalit leaders will remain with us to fight against BJP," said Jadeja terming their protest as "minor".

In Banaskantha, Maldhari community is unhappy over the selection of Joitabhai Patel by Congress. According to the community leaders, Congress "betrayed" them.

"Three months ago, we had asked Congress leaders to select a Maldhari leader for at least one seat, that is Banaskantha, where large number of Maldharis dwell. Though they assured us that a ticket will be given to our leader Raghu Desai, they betrayed us by nominating Patel," said Nagji Desai, president of Maldhari Ekta Samiti.

Desai called a meeting here on Friday and gave 48-hour "ultimatum" to Congress to reverse its decision.

"Maldharis are considered a strong force in Banashkantha with 1.70 lakh voters. If Congress fails to fulfil our demand, we will decide our strategy after 48 hours," said Desai.

Just like Congress, BJP is also facing similar protests and anger over the selection of their candidates for Mehsana, Kheda and Dahod. Though BJP has not declared its candidate for Kheda seat yet, local leaders staged protest over the delay and possibility of selection of an `outsider`.

Devusinh Chauhan, who lost against Congress leader Dinsha Patel in 2009, is considered a "favourite" among local BJP leaders and workers.

"We want the high command to select Devusinh. We don`t want any outsider here," said Jayantibhai Sodha, president of Kheda Jilla Panchayat.

To mount pressure on BJP high command, Sodha and 500 other BJP workers staged a protest in front of Kheda BJP office on Friday.

Devusinh lost to Patel with a thin margin of 846 votes in 2009 and according to sources BJP is not keen to repeat candidates who lost earlier. Meanwhile, party workers heard a rumour that party had selected someone else.

In Mehsana, local Patel leaders are unhappy over the selection of sitting MP Jayshreeben Patel as BJP candidate.

Secretary of Unjha based Umiya Mata Temple Trust wrote a letter to BJP leaders expressing dissatisfaction.

"We wanted the party to give ticket to a strong candidate. There were many such leaders who were in the list, such as A K Patel and N L Patel. But, they were ignored. Thus, I have written a letter to party high command to reverse the decision," said Vikram Patel, who represents more than seven lakh Kadva Patel families in north Gujarat.

In Dahod, seven-time Congress MP Somji Damor, who had crossed over to BJP, expressed agony over his rejection for Dahod seat.

BJP has given ticket to Jaswantsinh Bhabhor for Dahod. "I have been ignored by my party since long. I even made representations earlier," Damor, who joined BJP after he lost in 2009, said.

"Though I never asked for ticket, the party could have given ticket to my son Vanraj, who can easily win. Now, I am keeping my options open," Damor said.

However, senior Congress and BJP leaders termed these issues as "minor".

"Congress is having a democratic system, in which anyone can freely make their representation. Thus, party high command will take appropriate steps in the coming days about the issues raised by our leaders and workers about the selection of candidates. There is no question of dissatisfaction, as none of them said that they would go against the party if their demands are not met," said Gujarat Congress spokesperson Mansih Doshi.

"Only central parliamentary board has the authority to decide about the candidates. The issue of dissatisfaction is artificially created and hyped by some people. Even Patel community is not against us. Only some people of that community have problems. Thus, we are not worried about it," said senior BJP leader and Minister of State for Home Rajnikant Patel.