Land dispute returns to haunt BJP in Saurashtra

Land dispute returns to haunt BJP in Saurashtra

first_imgWhile the Congress is trying to capitalise on the supposed disenchantment of the Patidars with the BJP in Gujarat ahead of the Assembly elections, protests by another influential community, the Karadia Rajputs, against BJP State president Jitu Vaghani over an old land dispute have escalated.The past two weeks have seen a series of protests in pockets of Saurashtra dominated by the community, demanding the resignation of Mr. Vaghani, a legislator from Bhavnagar West. Karadia Rajputs leaders have alleged that Mr. Vaghani had grabbed a parcel of pastoral land at Budhel village in Bhavnagar district and foisted false cases against Dansang Mori, sarpanch of the village, who resisted the alleged act. Mr. Mori was suspended as sarpanch in 2014 and later arrested for allegedly stealing a mobile phone and inciting riots. Massive gathering With the State polls round the corner, the community has rallied behind Mr. Mori, and discontent was evident at a massive public meeting organised near Ahmedabad on November 5. Over 200 community leaders, including local political leaders, at the gathering decided to fight the “injustice” done to Mr. Mori.“Vaghani is a land grabber, who has encroached upon gauchar (pastoral) land in the village. When Dansang opposed him, he [Vaghani] used his political clout to get him suspended as sarpanch and implicated him in cases based on trumped-up charges,” said Kanbha Gohil, a senior community leader, who has been asked to hold talks with the BJP leadership on the issue.“When I refused to pass the resolution of handing over pastoral land to Mr. Vaghani, I and my family members became his target,” Mr. Mori told presspersons in Ahmedabad before the convention.The BJP has so far dismissed all allegations and defended the party president. “All allegations are motivated and baseless,” Gujarat BJP spokesperson I.K. Jadeja said.Influential community“Our main demand is resignation of Vaghani. Another demand is that all cases against Dansang Mori and his family members should immediately be withdrawn. We have remained loyal to BJP so far but this time we may have to rethink our support in case the BJP does not yield,” Mr. Gohil said.He said Karadia Rajputs were influential in 35 Assembly constituencies in Saurashtra and Ahmedabad district.Protests have spread to villages with community banners saying “No Entry for Vaghani”. Saurashtra’s main city Rajkot, a BJP stronghold, has witnessed two protests in as many weeks against Mr. Vaghani. On Tuesday, Mr. Vaghani’s face in a hoarding at Astron Chowk in Rajkot was defaced.last_img

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