Former Congress MLA Manilal Vaghela, who was denied ticket by the party in the 2017 Gujarat Assembly elections, joined the BJP on Sunday along with several of his supporters, ahead of the state polls due in December this year. Gujarat BJP president C R Paatil welcomed Vaghela with a party scarf at the ‘Vijay Vishwas Sammelan’ in Vadgam town of Banaskantha district.
Vaghela had won the 2012 state election on Congress’s ticket from Vadgam seat, but was denied ticket in the 2017 Assembly election after the party decided to support independent candidate and Dalit leader Jignesh Mevani, who won by defeating his BJP rival. Vaghela, who was associated with Congress for a long time, had resigned from the party in November last year, citing displeasure over the party sidelining him for Mevani. He had expressed objection to Mevani’s “provoctive speeches” and Dalit identity politics. Notably, Mevani was arrested a few days back by the Assam police from Palanpur town in Banaskantha over a tweet. He is currently in the Assam police’s custody after his bail plea was rejected by a court in the north- eastern state.
Soon after joining the BJP, Vaghela criticised the Congress, terming it as a “direction-less party” with nobody to hear the grievances of Congress workers. Vaghela said he will ensure the BJP victory from the Vadgam seat, which is reserved for Scheduled Caste candidates. “I contacted people from the area and after visiting different villages and meeting sarpanchs and others, I decided to join the BJP. I will ensure that this seat is won by the BJP, irrespective of who gets the ticket to contest from the seat,” he said.