Members of Koli community from various states today expressed the resolve to strengthen their organisation so as to "effectively negotiate" better representation in the BJP and the Congress during elections. Representatives of the community from 15 states assembled in Ahmedabad today to demand better representation of their MLAs in both the parties in Gujarat and to chalk out a strategy for states which will go to polls in coming months. "In Gujarat, the community is aggrieved with both the ruling BJP and opposition Congress for not allotting senior Koli leaders the posts they deserved," said Gujarat chapter of Akhil Bharatya Koli Samaj president Chandravadan Pethawalla after the meeting. As many as 33 MLAs in the 182-member Gujarat Assembly are Kolis, who accounts for around 24 per cent of the state population, he said. Among the 33 legislators, 11 are from the BJP and 12 from the Congress, Pethawalla said. "This was significantly higher than the 17 Koli MLAs who were elected last time," he said. Pethawalla said despite being a numerically significant community, Koli MLAs are not getting the posts they deserve in the BJP as well as the Congress. He said the Congress "ignored" the demand of the Koli community to make senior MLA Kunwarji Bavaliya as the Leader of Opposition (LoP) in Gujarat. "Similarly, the ruling BJP did not give five-time MLA Purshottam Solanki a Cabinet rank (in the Vijay Rupani government)," he said. Both Bavaliya and Solanki had recently staked claims for LoP and a Cabinet portfolio, respectively. "While the Congress picked Paresh Dhanani as the LoP, the BJP assured Solanki that it would consider his demand.
However, his demand is not met yet," Pethawalla said. Despite Bavaliya being a senior leader and the national secretary of Akhil Bhartiya Koli Samaj who had worked hard for the Congress to perform well in Saurashtra region, he was not given the position he deserved, he claimed. Pethawalla said the Koli community was "hurt" because of the manner in which political parties are treating their leaders. "At 26 per cent, we form a significant chunk of population across the country. We today resolved to strengthen our political position so that we could negotiate better with political parties during elections," Pethawalla said. He said the organisation would write to the BJP and the Congress at national level and seek appointments from their top brass to put forward demands of the community and to express grievances.
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