Three leaders in a spat, rocking Jamnagar BJP’s boat

Behind the public spat between three women leaders of the BJP in Jamnagar on August 17 – first-time MLA Rivaba Jadeja, two-time MP Poonam Maadam and Jamnagar Mayor Binaben Kothari – appears to be friction that developed during campaigning for the December 2022 Assembly elections, and their prospects in the forthcoming Lok Sabha polls.

Visitors at a ‘Meri Mitti Mera Desh’ event to pay tributes to martyrs on August 1 had witnessed Jadeja snapping at Maadam, when the MP reminded her that Kothari was her senior. “I have seen her (Kothari’s) vadilpanu (maturity) during the election,” said Jadeja.

Six days later, there was an effort to put behind the spat, a video of which had gone viral, by the Mayor and the MLA. As the Jamnagar BJP celebrated the success of the Chandrayaan 3 mission, Jadeja and Kothari were seen feeding each other sweets.

However, given what has been transpiring between the two leaders, it might take more than that to erase the August 17 incident.

Jadeja’s barb was a clear suggestion that Kothari had not campaigned for her enough during the Assembly elections. A long-time RSS worker, Kothari had been assigned by the BJP to campaign for Jadeja, the wife of cricketer Ravindra Jadeja, in her first-ever Assembly election.

Earlier too, Jadeja, a Kshatriya, has hinted that Kothari, a Jain, did not put in her best during the campaign, though it saw her win Jamnagar North by a huge margin of 53,570 votes.

After the August 17 incident, Kothari told The Indian Express that she was fine with Jadeja holding a different view on her contribution. “I shouldered the responsibility my party had entrusted me, to the best of my abilities. I haven’t said anything to any party worker that could hurt the party. In spite of that, if people bear a different perception, I’m fine with that too,” she said.

Before this, Jadeja has thrice taken a swipe at Kothari in her capacity as Mayor by referring to “shoddy” civic work in her Assembly segment. Recently, Jadeja called a meeting of Jamnagar Municipal Corporation contractors bypassing the Mayor.

Asked about this, Kothari again said she was not affected by this. “She (Jadeja) could be working in coordination with our party president. I don’t mind people having different styles of functioning.”

The BJP, where such public exhibition of differences is virtually unknown, is trying to play the incident down. Jamnagar BJP president Vimal Kagathara called how one views the incident “a subjective matter”. “Perceptions may vary. That said, I don’t know in what context she (Jadeja) used that term (vadilpanu), as I have not met the MLA since then,” he told The Indian Express.

BJP leaders say in private that that more than a clash of political ambitions, the incident reflects unease over Jadeja’s swift rise. A senior BJP leader said: “All it shows is the MLA’s immaturity and lack of discipline, that you wouldn’t find in a seasoned BJP worker who has risen through the ranks.”

Watching gleefully from the sidelines, Congress leaders say the tensions will reflect in the 2024 Lok Sabha elections. “The public spat is the proof of the tinder-box situation within the state BJP, fanned by rivalry and ambition. It indicates that a rot has set in,” says Jivan Kumbharvadiya, president of the Jamnagar Congress.

Incidentally, Ward No. 5 of Jamnagar Municipal Corporation from which Kothari has been elected twice and which is part of Jadeja’s Jamnagar North constituency, is dominated by the minority community and Dalits, with Kshatriyas the third largest group.

The Jamnagar North seat had been a BJP fortress till Congress leader Dharmendrasinh Jadeja alias Hakubha breached it in 2012. In 2017, he won again, though this time as a BJP nominee.

A BJP leader said: “Before the 2022 Assembly elections, some local party leaders ensured that Dharmendrasinh didn’t get the ticket from Jamnagar North, as he was becoming too powerful. Rivaba Jadeja was roped in instead. But since a heavyweight like Dharmendrasinh had been sidelined, the BJP leaders behind the move had to prove a point by ensuring the party’s victory by a huge margin. Hence, they put in an extra effort. Kothari and former mayor Amiben Parikh were directed to guide Rivaba as she was a political novice.”

Where Jamnagar MP Poonam Maadam comes into the picture is that, like Jadeja, she is a lateral entrant in the BJP who has seen a similar, meteoric rise since she joined the party.

With its unbroken and record-breaking electoral success, the Gujarat BJP has seen waves of defectors from other parties joining it, increasing the competition for tickets.

Maadam hails from the OBC Ahir community, and her father Hemant Maadam was a four-time MLA and two-time Jamnagar Mayor, who always remained Independent. In 2012, Maadam was seen as a frontrunner for the Congress ticket from Khambhalia Assembly constituency in present-day Devbhumi Dwarka district, even as her uncle Vikram Madam served his second term as the Congress MP of Jamnagar. When the Congress dithered in announcing her candidature, Maadam moved to the BJP, which fielded her from Khambhalia, which she won.

In 2014, the BJP fielded her against her uncle Vikram from the Jamnagar Lok Sabha seat. Maadam won, helping the BJP snatch Jamnagar back from the Congress after 10 years, and has not looked back since. She is seen as enjoying popular support and the backing of the BJP brass.

Jadeja, in contrast, is seen as riding on largely the popularity of her husband Ravindra Jadeja, an all-rounder in the Indian cricket team. In November 2018, the two had called on Prime Minister Narendra Modi together, with the PM later tweeting about the meeting.

Less than four months later, in March 2019, on the eve of Modi’s visit to Jamnagar in the run-up to the Lok Sabha elections, Jadeja had joined the BJP. Three years later, she got an Assembly ticket.

The August 17 incident followed Jadeja making a point of removing her shoes before offering floral tributes at a martyrs’ memorial. When Mayor Kothari, who followed her, struggled to remove her footwear, Maadam was heard telling her that it was okay, and that the Prime Minister and President never removed their shoes at such occasions. Reportedly, she added that those who did so were “bhan vagarna loko (senseless people) trying to act smart”.

Jadeja, who apparently overheard Maadam, immediately shot back, asking Kothari to “stay within her limits”. When Maadam stepped in and told Jadeja she couldn’t talk to Kothari in that tone as the latter was her senior, Jadeja accused the MP of “lighting the fire” and told her not to try to “douse it”. “I have seen her (Kothari’s) vadilpanu during the elections,” she added.

This post was created with our nice and easy submission form. Create your post!

What do you think?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

GIPHY App Key not set. Please check settings

    Omar Abdullah: ‘Voter turnout in next J&K Assembly polls will break all records … Lot of anxiety about disconnect between people and govt’

    Suspended by Congress over a BJP flag, MLA Sandeep Jakhar digs heels in