Chhotubhai to take on son, files papers as Independent

Tribal leader and seven-time time MLA from Jhagadia Chhotubhai Vasava on Monday filed his nomination from the same seat in Bharuch as an independent candidate, pitting himself against his son and founder of Bharatiya Tribal Party (BTP), Mahesh Vasava, who is contesting from the seat on party ticket.

The father and the son were the only two winners from the BTP in 2017 — Chhotubhai won from Jhagadia and Mahesh from Dediapada.

Speaking about his move, Chhotubhai said he has to fight the polls as there is nobody else to take on the ruling BJP. Accompanied by his other son, Dilip, Chhotubhai filed his nomination as an independent with a rally of supporters waving white flags with a photograph of the tribal leader, and not the BTP flag.

Talking to The Indian Express, Chhotubhai said, “Today I had filed nomination as independent candidate on Jhagadia seat. I know my son Mahesh filed his nomination for the same seat from BTP. Just wait till the 17th (last day of withdrawal of form), the picture would be clear. He is my son, and I am sure that I will convince him and sort out the differences. We have already declared BTP candidates on over 22 seats (tribal).”

His personal secretary Abbalal Jadhav told media persons, “Chhotu Vasava has said he will fight for the rights of tribals until his last breath, whether it is through polls or on social media. Nobody can snatch Jhagadia from Chhotu Vasava. Vasava’s supporters held a meeting at his residence where it was decided he will contest the election.”

Jadhav added such disputes, like the one between a father and son, were not unusual in politics, adding that it (tussle) will be short-lived. “Members of a family can contest from four places (seats)… the BJP is not going to win, neither in the country nor in Gujarat. I am totally hopeful of victory,” said Chhotubhai.

Mahesh, who filed his nomination on November 11, said, “As the national president of the BTP, I can say we will win many seats. There will be no clear majority in the upcoming election. People are aware. The fight is against unemployment, Covid pandemic and GST.”

On being pitted against his father, he said everybody has right to file nomination forms. On November 9, the BTP had announced Mahesh Vasava’s candidature from Jhagadia.

Last week, in an attempt to brush the family feud aside, Chhotubhai had told this newspaper that he had pulled out of the race in order to “contest bigger polls in 2024”. However, sources said that after talks between the father and son failed, an angry Chhotubhai decided to contest as an independent, bringing out the differences with Mahesh in the open.

Bahadursinh Vasava is the BTP candidate from the Dediapada seat this time. —(With PTI)

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