Accused of Murder, How Former BJP MP Dinu Solanki is Eyeing a Political Comeback in Gujarat
Solanki is informally settling past animosities within his community and his willingness to come to the negotiating table with his rivals is being touted as a significant development.
File photo of Dinu Solanki.
Ahmedabad: Politics creates strange bedfellows and it gets real in case karadiya rajput strongman and former BJP MP from Junagadh, Dinu Solanki, the prime accused in RTI activist Amit Jethwa murder case. Solanki has been meeting his opponents within his community in Junagadh and steering off past animosities with them.
Political observers say that Solanki’s willingness to come to the negotiating table to settle old disputes with his rivals within the community is a significant development. Solanki was Junagadh BJP MP from 2009 to 2014. However, the BJP dropped him in 2014 Lok Sabha elections after his name cropped up in the RTI Activist Amit Jethwa’s murder case. Jethwa was shot dead on July 20, 2010 in front of the Gujarat high court in Ahmedabad.
Jethwa had sought information using the RTI Act on the illegal mining of limestone in the Gir region of Gir Somnath district and had filed a PIL in the Gujarat High Court in the illegal mining around Gir wildlife Sanctuary months before he was shot dead.
The Jethwa murder case was initially investigated by the Ahmedabad Local Police and the CID before it was transferred to the CBI by the Gujarat High Court in October 2012. The court had observed that ‘the investigation has been perfunctory and biased only to protect Solanki and transferred the case to the CBI’’.
Cut to November 2014, CBI arrested Solanki in connection with the murder of Jethwa and is now out on bail.
Solanki was elected as an MLA from Kodinar Assembly constituency for three consecutive terms from 1998 to 2007 on BJP ticket. In 2009 Lok Sabha polls, he was elected as a BJP MP from Junagadh. However, since his name cropped up in the murder case and the subsequent arrest, BJP distanced itself from Solanki in electoral politics to save face.
Moreover, in 2012 Assembly polls, Solanki’s traditional stronghold Kodinar seat, had been converted into an SC reserved seat after de-limitation, thereby putting an end to his future political endeavours.
“The political equation has changed in Junagadh since the BJP fielded Koli leader Rajesh Chudasama in 2014 and won it. Since the Kolis form the majority of voters in Junagadh, the BJP can’t afford leave it for a non-Koli candidate. However, Solanki is trying to come into the political fray and requested the party to give him a second chance, but the caste equation has changed a lot,’’ a senior BJP leader told News18.
Solanki, a close aide of BJP national president Amit Shah, in fact, had flexed his muscles against the BJP in 2015 panchayat polls when he fielded his supporters in Kodinar Taluka and Gir-Somnath as independents against the BJP.
Solanki had brought the BJP to its knees in Kodinar in 2015 after his candidates won 12 out of 22 seats. The BJP had won 7 and the Congress got three seats. Two of his supporters had also won two seats in Gir-Somnath district as well. However, later the BJP reached out to a sulking Solanki and formed the Kodinar Taluka panchayat with the support of Solanki’s independent candidates.
“Tackling his shaky grounds, Solanki informally settled rivalries with other Karadiya Rajput leaders, including former Congress MLA from Kodinar Dhirsinh Barada, former minister Jasabhai Barad, Laxmansinh Parmar and Govindsinh Parmar among others and made it clear to the BJP that he had no more opponents in his community as everything was settled amicably,’’ a Karadiya rajput leader told News18.
“This year, Dinubhai has demanded a Lok Sabha ticket from the saffron party from Junagadh and he also expressed his displeasure against Chudasama. Now, it’s up to the party to decide who should be the candidate,’’ said a BJP worker.
In Junagadh, it’s a tricky situation for the BJP given the present political circumstances as the party has lost all the seven assembly seats to the Congress in 2017 polls which fall under the Junagadh Lok Sabha Seat.
Therefore, it’s interesting to watch Solanki’s next course of action to remain relevant in electoral politics as he awaits judgment in CBI trial court in Ahmedabad.
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