BJP MLA asks Patels to vote for Congress in Gujarat local polls

Ahmedabad: Continuing his attack on the Anandiben Patel government in Gujarat, ruling BJP's legislator and Patel community leader Nalin Kotadiya on Thursday asked Patidars to vote for the opposition Congress in the coming elections to the 323 local bodies.

"I want to request every Patidar to vote for the Congress in the coming municipal elections. Congress leaders have promised to give reservation to Patidars if they are voted to power," Kotadiya told IANS.

Polling for six municipal corporations in Gujarat would be held on November 22, whereas polling for municipalities and district/taluka panchayats would take place on November 29.

"The Bharatiya Janata Party has used the Patels to serve its political interests and is now seeking to discard them," he said.

The MLA, a Leuva Patel, claimed the Congress would never do this and instead provide reservation to the Patel community that is 14 percent of the state’s population.

Kotadiya is an MLA from Dhari constituency in Saurashtra region with sizeable population of Leuva and Kadwa Patels - commonly identified as Patidars though they are perennially at loggerheads.

"There are six ministers, including Chief Minister Anandiben Patel and three ministers of state, and 42 BJP MLAs who are Patels, but the ruling party is not interested in the wellbeing of the community,” said the MLA, elected on a ticket from Gujarat Parivartan Party (GPP) floated by former chief minister Keshubhai Patel.

State BJP president R.C. Faldu and three general secretaries too were from the Patidar community, Kotadiya added.

The GPP merged with the BJP after the 2012 assembly elections.

About any disciplinary action against him, Kotadiya said, "I am waiting for action against me (by the BJP), but surprisingly it is not forthcoming."

"I am prepared to resign both from the BJP and as an MLA, if required, said Kotadiya, who on Wednesday - third time in two months - asserted at a public meeting in Surat that “it was time the Patidars taught a lesson to the government".

"I believe there are leaders in the BJP who want reservation for Patels in jobs and educational institutions. This is probably the reason not even a showcause notice has been issued to me," Kotadiya said, adding that "justice to Patels was more important for him than crumbs of power".

"Look at the way Gujarat police are behaving with Hardik Patel (leader of Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti) and others. They are deliberately harassing them by slapping sedition and other charges against youngsters. Sedition means attempt to overthrow a duly-elected government, Hardik and his supporters are not doing any of this at all. They are just being framed," the MLA said, wondering it was happening even as Gujarat minister of state for home was a Patel.

Meanwhile, the ruling BJP sought to distance itself from Nalin Kotadiya’s views.

"The BJP has severed its association with Kotadiya. He was an import from the Gujarat Parivartan Party," said state BJP general secretary Mansukh Mandavia.

"He is not an active member of the party," Mandavia, also from the Patel community, said.

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