Days after unveiling the “no-repeat policy”, the Gujarat BJP has appointed low-profile corporators as mayors, deputy mayors, standing committee chairpersons, and leaders of the ruling party in the municipal corporations of Vadodara and Ahmedabad as the tenures of the office-holders ended on Sunday.
Pratibha Jain, 52, on Monday, took over from Kirit Parmar as the Ahmedabad mayor. The post is reserved for women in the second half of the total term of five years. While Jatin Patel took over as the new deputy mayor, Devang Dani is now the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) Standing Committee chairman. Gaurang Prajapati, councillor from the Bhaipura ward, who is the former IT Cell convenor of the BJP Ahmedabad city unit and an vengineer by profession, has been appointed as the leader of the ruling party.
In what is being termed a “surprise pick”, Pinky Soni was appointed as Vadodara’s 61st mayor and the fourth woman mayor on Monday. Dr Shital Mistry, who worked as the Vadodara nodal officer and medical advisor to the administration during the pandemic, has been appointed the Standing Committee chairman. Manoj Patel takes over as the leader of the ruling party in the VMC. The BJP has also picked Chirag Barot, the outgoing whip of the party in the VMC, as the deputy mayor.
The new office holders, whose names were announced during the General Board meeting on Monday, will hold these positions for the remaining two-and-a-half-year term.
Days before the tenures of the functionaries in the civic bodies were to end in two of eight municipal corporations in the state, Gujarat BJP chief CR Paatil on September 5 announced that the party would implement a “no-repeat policy” in the appointments to local self-government bodies. The policy, he said, would “give an opportunity” to others to gain “experience” in administration. The announcement came while hopefuls were lobbying for the posts.
The new Ahmedabad mayor, Pratibha Jain, a three-time corporator from Shahibaug, contested her first election from the Madhupura ward in 2010. She has been heading the Women and Child Development Committee since May 2021.
A native of Rajasthan and a graduate in political science, Jain shifted to Ahmedabad after her marriage to Rakeshkumar, a BJP worker. A member of ABVP, she has also been an active member of the party’s Mahila Morcha (women’s wing).
Jain has been a member of several committees since 2010. During her 2010-15 term, she was a member of the AMC’s Hospital Committee and Roads and Building Committee.
She was also the deputy chairman of the Women and Child Development Committee. During her term from 2015-20, she was a member of the Road and Building, Revenue, and Water Supply committees.
Speaking to reporters after her appointment, Jain underlined the need to address the basic issues of road, water, and drainage in Ahmedabad. She added that traffic and stray cattle menace will also be among her priorities. Meanwhile, Pinky Soni’s selection for the Vadodara Mayor’s post has left not only the party leaders but her family surprised too.
Soni, a commerce graduate, has previously worked as a primary school teacher. She is a corporator from Ward-4 of the city. She joined the BJP in August 2017 and has served as the general secretary of the party’s women’s wing of Ward 4. She was also a member of the general body of the ward. She has also been a member of the Women’s Safety Committee of Vadodara district.
Deputy Mayor Chirag Barot has been a BJP member since 1990 and is a three-term municipal corporator, who had also served as the BJP’s election in-charge of the Akota assembly constituency in December.
He has been a member of the Standing Committee for a specific period during both his previous tenures as a municipal corporator.
Dr Shital Mistry, the new Standing Committee chairman, is a general surgeon. He has also served as an associate professor at the Gujarat Medical and Education Research Society (GMERS), Gotri. He has been closely involved in planning and monitoring the administrative response for disaster management.
In 2021, Mistry resigned as a professor from GMERS Medical College to contest the VMC election from Ward-6 as a BJP candidate. Mistry has been the spokesperson of the BJP in the VMC as well as the director of the ESIC Regional Board of Gujarat.
On the other hand, Manoj Patel, a commerce graduate and three-term corporator from Ward-7 of the city, has been chosen as the leader of the ruling party for the next half of the five-year term.
The party had chosen to let the post remain vacant after the suspension of Alpesh Limbachiya, following his arrest by the Vadodara Crime Branch in the case of defamation of Nileshsinh Rathod whose tenure as Vadodara’s mayor ended Sunday.
The party has also chosen Shailesh Patil of Ward-18 as the whip of the party in the VMC, replacing Barot whose tenure also ended on Sunday.