A six-time MLA who last won on the BJP ticket from Gujarat’s Waghodia segment, Madhubhai Shrivastav, has decided to contest as an Independent after the ruling party decided not to re-nominate him, and has said he rues having joined the party “at Narendra Modi and Amit Shah’s insistence” 25 years ago.
Chief Minister Bhupendra Patel “cannot do anything” about the ticket as “everything is decided by the top leadership in Delhi”, said Mr Shrivastav, a local “bahubali” or strongman-politician who was once named in a 2002 Gujarat riots case.
He said he hasn’t spoken to Mr Patel: “Why would I do that? I have a direct line with PM Modi and Mr Shah.” But he hasn’t spoken to them either after the ticket denial, he added.
Sources said Mr Shrivastav was one of six rebels who refused to meet state minister Harsh Sanghavi, deputed to bring them around, over the past few days.
Mr Shrivastav had joined the BJP in 1995 after he won as an Independent. He and his family members have been with the Congress, Janata Dal and other outfits too.
“I didn’t come to the BJP on my own. When I won by a huge margin in 1995, Narandra Modi and Amit Shah came to request me to join the BJP. That’s the only reason I joined the party,” he claimed while speaking to NDTV over the phone. PM Modi was a BJP functionary in the state at the time, before going on to become chief minister some years later. Mr Shah, now Union Home Minister, too, was a state-level politician then.
Mr Shrivastav said the Vadodara district BJP chief, Ashwin Patel, who has got the ticket in his place “has never won even a local election”. “I am obviously very upset and angry with the BJP. I have quit all posts,” he added.
The BJP has not reacted to the comments so far. It had dropped 38 sitting MLAs, including five ministers and the speaker of the assembly, in its first list of 160 candidates, out of the 282 seats.
While the party has seen some infighting in Gujarat — its stronghold for 27 consecutive years — it faced a more serious threat from within in Himachal Pradesh, where it had rebels on 21 of the 68 seats.
Himachal voted on November 12, and Gujarat is to vote on December 1 and 5, with results scheduled for December 8.