The collapse of a century-old bridge on Machchhu river in Morbi recently killing around 132 people became a cause of concern for the Bharatiya Janata Party in Gujarat as the opposition gunned for the government in the wake of the upcoming assembly polls. The ruling party, however, believes that it tackled the incident well despite the fact that the government has little role to play in it.
On Thursday, when the candidate list was announced, the BJP fielded its old hand Kantilal Amrutiya replacing MLA Brijesh Merja from the Morbi assembly constituency. The video of Amrutiya jumping into the river with a life-saving tube around him to save those drowning had gone viral, attracting praise from fellow party workers and leaders.
For some in the party, the images of Amrutiya’s rescue act have been instrumental in finalising his name for the seat.
Senior BJP leaders, however, maintained that Amrutiya has been a long-time karyakarta of the party and many years ago visited Morbi with Prime Minister Narendra Modi when a similar incident took place.
Amrutiya had lost Morbi to Congress candidate Brijesh Merja in the 2017 assembly polls. In 2020, Merja quit Congress and was re-elected as a BJP MLA from the seat. This time, however, the party has reposed faith in Amrutiya again, believing that he will deliver the seat.
Senior leaders of the party stated that Amrutiya enjoys a good reputation in the constituency and hence was given a ticket.
State BJP president CR Patil while speaking on the change of candidate in Morbi and whether this would impact the elections or not, said, “It was a private bridge and, despite everything, the government jumped into action swiftly. Many of the BJP workers were instrumental in saving lives. The workers of other parties were not even seen anywhere. The administration did everything in its might to rescue people.”
Party sources said that the Morbi tragedy is not an election issue anymore.
The BJP announced a list of 160 candidates on Thursday with many young people being picked to contest.
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