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5-time Congress MLA joins BJP in Gujarat, made a minister in Rupani govt

Kunwarji Bavalia had met Congress president Rahul Gandhi less than a fortnight back to express his unhappiness over the state of affairs in Gujarat under the young leadership.

india Updated: Jul 03, 2018 18:37 IST
Hiral Dave
Hiral Dave
Gandhinagar, Hindustan Times
Gujarat Congress MLA,BJP,Kunwarji Bawalia
Veteran Gujarat Congress politician Kunvarji Bavaliya.(HT Photo)

Five-time legislator and former parliamentarian Kunvarji Bavaliya, who resigned from the Congress on Tuesday morning, was made a minister the Vijay Rupani-led BJP government in Gujarat just a few hours later.

Bavaliya tendered his resignation as the Jasdan MLA to speaker Rajendra Trivedi after a brief meeting with Rupani at the latter’s residence in the morning. He then headed to the BJP headquarters where he was formally inducted into the party by state unit president Jitu Vaghani.

Bavalia wields considerable clout in the Koli community that constitutes over 22 per cent of Gujarat’s 6 crore population. His portfolio has not been announced.

The move came as a blow to the state Congress, being run by a young leadership, ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. However, hours later, former Jasdan MLA and another Koli leader Bhola Gohil, left the BJP to join the Congress.

Bavalia alleged that caste politics by the central leadership was a hurdle in serving his constituents.

“Rahul Gandhi (Congress president) practices caste politics for the vote bank. This didn’t allow me to serve my constituency. I have been for some time carefully observing the way Prime Minister Narendra Modi is leading the nation toward development. I have faith in Modi, Shah (BJP president Amit Shah) and the state leadership,” Bavaliya said soon after joining the BJP.

“Bavaliya is a grassroots leader and he will help the BJP to further strengthen its base,” said Vaghani.

Gujarat Congress president Amit Chavda, on the other hand, accused him of “betrayal” for “personal gains”.

Bavaliya had met Rahul Gandhi less than a fortnight ago reportedly to express his unhappiness over the state of affairs in the Gujarat Congress under the young leadership of Chavda and leader of opposition Paresh Dhanani.

His resignation comes days after another heavyweight and working president Indranil Rajyaguru quit all the posts he was holding in the Congress.

With two more MLAs, Javeed Pirzada and Vikram Madam, having already expressed unhappiness with the party recently, Dhanani and Chavda face a serious challenge to get the house in order within six months of taking over. All these four MLA represent the Saurashtra region where the Congress made major inroads in the 2017 assembly elections.

In the run-up to the December 2017 polls, a couple of senior Congress leaders including Shankersinh Vaghela, had left the party. But the Congress managed to win 77 seats, its best tally since 1995, while restricting the BJP to 99 seats in the 182-member House.

First Published: Jul 03, 2018 12:48 IST