In renewed crisis of civic bodies in Gujarat, BJP factions go after Chalala

With divisiveness and infighting among Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) councilors which have hampered the functioning of some major party-run municipalities in the Saurashtra region of Gujarat in recent years, a similar crisis has now gripped the Chalala civic body of Amreli district, which failed to even pass its 2022-2023 budget by the March 31 deadline.

Even as the BJP-led government of Gujarat has yet to respond to the Chalala body crisis, the functioning of the municipality has come to a halt in the absence of the political executive. The ruling party was blushed after a group of its Chalala councilors rioted and rejected the budget presented by the president of the municipality Geeta Kariya on April 19, even if the Congress of the opposition passed the budget.

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“We will not allow the budget to be approved at any cost,” a BJP rebel leader Amreli said. The Indian Express. “As long as efforts are underway for a truce, we cannot hand everything over to the rival group.”

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On the other hand, the official BJP group hopes that the party leadership will intervene to support Kariya. “We haven’t lost hope. We hope that Kaushik Vekariya, chairman of BJP Amreli unit, will make another attempt to quell the intra-party rebellion and we can convene another budget meeting for Chalala Municipality soon,” a local BJP official said.

A similar situation was seen last year in Bhanvad Municipality of Devbhumi Dwarka District, which led to the state government replacing the civic body’s general council. However, in the ensuing midterm polls, the BJP faced a beating.

At the beginning of last year, in the municipality of Wankaner, in the district of Morbi, a group of rebels of the BJP, with the support of the advisers of the party Bahujan Samaj (BSP), defeated the official candidates of the party in the elections for positions of president and vice president and took control of the civic body.

Discontent in the saffron party camp in Chalala erupted in 2020 when the BJP leadership appointed Kariya as the head of the municipality. A group of eight rebel advisers, including a few who had defected to the Congress BJP, opposed his appointment. Due to their rebellion, Kariya failed to convene the general assembly of the municipality’s board to consider and adopt the budget despite the fact that the BJP has 20 of the total 24 councillors.

The BJP rebels are divided into two camps – the Kariya group affiliated with former party leader Amreli Bharat Kanabar and the faction affiliated with JV Kakadiya, the local BJP MP, who won the Dhari seat in the 2017 elections in as a candidate for Congress but defected to the BJP in 2020 and won the consequent indirect vote on the BJP ticket. Kakadiya thus gave the BJP a grip on Amreli, after it lost its five congressional seats in the 2017 elections.

After the Chalala civic body failed to pass its 1.19 crore budget, the municipality’s chief executive informed the councilors on March 31 that they no longer wielded any financial power.

Section 76 of the Gujarat Municipalities Act obliges the ruling party to pass the budget no later than March 31. The BJP government’s urban development department, however, has yet to make its intervention, in stark contrast to its swift action in a similar case. of the Congress-led Gondal taluka panchayat in 2016.

The Congress snatched the panchayat gondal from the BJP in the November 2015 elections amid Patidar quota wrangling, winning 12 of the 22 seats in total. However, one of its congressmen defected to the BJP, following which the ruling party failed to pass its budget. The state government then quickly appointed an administrator for the taluka panchayat before finally replacing it on June 20, 2016. In the ensuing midterm elections, the BJP emerged victorious.

Regional Commissioner for Bhavnagar Municipalities, Ajay Dahiya said, “The Head of Chalala Municipality had sent us a report on the day the budget could not be passed. We had conveyed the same to the state government and we are awaiting guidance from the government on the matter,” adding, “Gujarat Municipalities Act does not provide any time limit for replacing a civic body due to failure of adoption of the budget”. .

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The state government had also chosen a different course in the face of the crisis that hit the municipality of Bhanvad, where BJP rebels had sided with members of Congress to pass a no-confidence motion against the president. and the vice-president then in place in March last year. . Instead of convening a general meeting of the board to elect the new president and vice president, the district collector appointed an official BJP group adviser, Bhanu Rajani, as interim president. After Rajani contracted Covid-19, she was replaced by fellow BJP loyalist Jyotsana Sagathiya. Eventually, the municipality was replaced by the state government on June 16, two and a half months after the BJP lost power there. In midterm elections held in October, Congress won 16 of the total 24 seats and ended the BJP’s 25-year rule in Bhanvad.

Meanwhile, the opposition has escalated its demand for the municipality of Chalala to be replaced by the government. “The civic body has been at the end of its rope for several months even as the inhabitants of the city complain about the poor quality of drinking water. We have asked the Regional Commissioner for Municipalities of Bhavnagar to replace the Municipality of Chalala,” said Chapraj Dhadhal, the opposition leader of the Congress.

It is another matter whether the BJP dispensation is cautiously advancing on the issue ahead of the Assembly elections due by the end of the year, given that it had only won the Dhari constituency. only once before Kakadiya’s victory.

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