Jawahar Chavda takes oath as BJP minister in Gujarat. (Photo: ANI)
Gujarat Congress MLA and mining baron Jawahar Chavda, who resigned from the party on Friday, took oath as a minister in the Vijay Rupani government on Saturday. Chavda is a four-time MLA from Manavadar, with even staunch Congress supporters concede that he is a “very good catch” for the BJP. If sources are to be believed he may contest from Junagadh Lok Sabha, in place of the current BJP MP Rajesh Chudasama. The oath-taking ceremony is likely to take place around 12.30 pm. After Kunvarji Bavaliya and Asha Patel, Jawahar Chavda is the third Congress MLA to resign from the current Gujarat Legislative Assembly.
Chavda, son of Congress veteran Pethalji Chavda of Junagadh district, won from Manavadar in four consecutive elections and this has been a Congress fort. He won the 2017 Assembly polls defeating Nitinkumar Valjibhai Fadadu of BJP. He won the election in 2012 with 72,879 votes defeating Ratibhai Gordhanbhai Sureja of BJP by 4,402 votes.
Another name doing the rounds is that of Jamnagar North MLA Dharmendrasinh Jadeja, who is likely to take oath as a minister on Saturday.
The development assumes significance as sources say that Gujarat Congress MLA Alpesh Thakore is likely to join the BJP. He will also directly get a ministerial berth, the sources added. However, the OBC leader and Congress legislator from Radhanpur in north Gujarat, denied rumours that he was preparing to join the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
Earlier in September 2018, Thakore had rubbished all rumours stating that he was going join the BJP. "I don't know who is spreading these canards at regular intervals but I want to state clearly that I am in the Congress and shall remain in the Congress," Thakore told reporters, flanked by state Congress president Amit Chavda and Leader of Opposition Paresh Dhanani. He had asserted: "I had joined the Congress after seeking the opinion of over 20,000 followers and today I am entrusted with national responsibility in the party, including in Bihar." There had been rumours of Thakore negotiating with the ruling BJP and that he might be accommodated as a Minister in the Vijay Rupani government. Political circles have also been speculating that he may vacate his constituency for former Minister Shankar Chaudhary.
Thakore had courted controversy for raising his voice against the Congress and supporting the BJP government's move to raise salaries for legislators in the state from Rs 70,000-plus to over Rs 1.16 lakh per month.