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Who is Kunwarji Bavaliya? Gujarat strongman who quit Congress for BJP

Gujarat OBC leader Kunwarji Bavaliya on Tuesday resigned from Congress and joined the Bharatiya Janata Party. The move by Bavaliya, who was serving as Gujarat Congress working president, sent shockwaves across the state unit of the party. Bavaliya was instrumental in garnering the support of Koli community for the Congress party during last assembly elections. The BJP, on the other hand, had fared badly in the Koli community dominated regions, Saurashtra in particular. Bavaliya is a five-time MLA from Gujarat. The leader was also elected to Lok Sabha in 2009 where he served as a Member, Committee on Rural Development and Committee on Private Members Bill and resolutions. The OBC leader was awarded a cabinet birth soon after he joined the BJP on Tuesday. Bavaliya accused Congress president Rahul Gandhi of playing casteist politics in the party. Bavaliya informed about his decision to Congress President Rahul Gandhi through an e-mail. He expressed displeasure about the way the party was functioning in the state, Congress sources told news agency PTI. Bavaliyas induction in the party is a plus for the BJP which aims to attract more votes from the Koli community. Speaking to reporters, Bavaliya said that he was not getting a chance to work the way he wanted. He further said that Rupani government is moving ahead with a mission, adding that he will be able to succeed in fulfilling the expectations of people, rural populace, the poor and farmers. Praising the Pime Minister, Bavaliya said that he was closely associated with Narendra Modi. Even in the past, the then chief minister and now prime minister, Narendrabhai was very closely associated with me. He used to tell me that we need people like you, he said. The Koli community, on which Bavaliya is believed to have considerable dominance, is present in large numbers in at least 20 assembly constituencies in Saurashtra and sends four MPs to the Lok Sabha. In the 2017 state elections, the Congress won 30 out of 54 seats in Saurashtra, 14 more than in 2012. The BJPs tally fell from 35 in 2012 to 23. Bavaliya has also been the working president of state Congress twice.

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