Purushottam Solanki (61), former fisheries minister and strongman leader of the Koli community, and his brother Heera (58) will contest their sixth straight assembly elections together. The BJP has given tickets to both from Bhavnagar Rural and Rajula constituencies respectively.
Rajula has 65,000 Koli votes, while Bhavnagar Rural has 85,000 votes.
In 2017, the senior Solanki had told the media that his son Divyesh would contest the elections in 2022. He had said, “The BJP will have to agree. Because they want to win nine seats in Bhavnagar, and if they don’t give the ticket to my son, I will not campaign.”
After the distribution of portfolios after the 2017 elections, Purushottam Solanki was angry with the then Vijay Rupani government as though he was elected for a fifth term, he got only the ministry of fisheries. He claimed that this “hurt the sentiments of the Koli community and they are unhappy”. He had said, “The Koli community should be given adequate representation in the government. Either I should be given some more portfolios or some other Koli leader should be included in the cabinet.” However, he was pacified after a few days.
The senior Solanki has been indicted by the Justice Srikrishna Commission probing the Mumbai riots. He is also facing a probe in the Rs 400-crore fisheries scam. Former Fisheries Minister Dilip Sanghani is also being investigated. The matter is now at the stage of framing of charges in a Gandhinagar court. The court had earlier rejected the discharge applications of Sanghani and Solanki in March 2021.