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Battle lines drawn in Rajkot as Cong’s Dhanani steps up to contest against BJP’s Rupala

Updated: Apr 16th, 2024

Gujarat Congress leader Paresh Dhanani has announced his decision to contest the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections from Rajkot, and this equation has made the constituency an important seat.  

This announcement comes in response to the continued candidacy of union minister, Parshottam Rupala, amid growing discontent over his controversial remarks about Kshatriyas.

Dhanani, who previously served as the Leader of Opposition in the Gujarat Legislative Assembly, likened Rupala’s comments to the disrobing of Draupadi in the Mahabharata, highlighting the perceived insult to the Kshatriya community.

Despite initial hesitations, senior Congress leaders persuaded Dhanani to enter the fray, setting the stage for a high-stakes electoral battle.

Dhanani defeated Rupala in the 2002 Assembly elections for the Amreli constituency.

On the other side, the BJP’s Rupala, a member of the Patidar community and current union Agriculture Minister, has been facing severe backlash from the Kshatriya community.

This dissent stems from his remarks concerning historical inter-faith marriages between Maharajas and Mughals.

Despite apologising and engaging with community leaders, the agitation against him continues growing.

The conflict peaked on Apr 15, when over 1,50,000 Kshatriya community members from Gujarat and neighbouring states rallied in Rajkot.

The ‘Kshatriya Maha Semmelan’ remained peaceful but resolute, in its demand for the BJP to withdraw Rupala’s candidacy.

Rupala’s political journey began with his leadership as President of the Amreli District BJP from 1988 to 1991, which led to his elevation as the party's state Secretary in 1992.

Over the years, he served multiple terms as a Member of the Legislative Assembly for the Amreli constituency between 1991 and 2002.

His ministerial appointments have included roles in the Narmada Development, Water Resources and Water Supply, and Agriculture and Co-op departments, where he was instrumental in advancing development initiatives.

As the deadline for withdrawing nominations approaches on April 19, the political tension in Rajkot is palpable.

The Congress hopes to capitalise on this unrest, positioning Dhanani as a candidate who can unify and represent the diverse interests of the constituency.

As Rajkot prepares for the Lok Sabha polls scheduled for May 7, all eyes are on this high-profile contest that could shift the political dynamics in this key Gujarat constituency.

(Source: IANS)

- Edited for style 

Also read: 

Shaktisinh Gohil criticises Rupala’s apology as “insincere”

BJP’s Parshottam Rupala files for Lok Sabha Election from Rajkot amid controversy

History repeats itself? Rupala has Rajput community at odds with its representatives