Ahmedabad: Unfazed by the criticism over the premature release of life convicts of gangrape of Bilkis Bano and multiple murders in a single episode in 2002, the BJP has fielded the daughter of a 2002 post-Godhra Naroda Patiya massacre case convict from the Naroda seat of Ahmedabad for the upcoming Gujarat elections.
The BJP’s youngest candidate, Payal Kukrani, 30, is an anaesthetist. She is the daughter of Manoj Kukrani, one of the 16 convicts in the Naroda Patiya riots case in which 97 Muslims were killed in a single episode that continued for many hours. The riots broke out on February 28, 2002.
For the record, the Gujarat High Court had in 2018 upheld the life sentence awarded to Manoj Kukrani and 15 others in the case. Kukrani is currently out on bail.
‘I am grateful to PM Modi…’: Payal Kukrani
Speaking to mediapersons who reached her, Payal Kukrani said, “I am grateful to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Home Minister Amit Shah, state BJP president C R Paatil, Chief Minister Bhupendra Patel and all the party workers and members.”
Payal, whose mother Reshma Kukrani is a BJP corporator, said her parents have been associated with the BJP for a long time. She said she had taken part in election campaigning in the past. Her priority on becoming an MLA would be to ensure development of her constituency.
She said if she won the election, her priority would be to develop the constituency and resolve the issues faced by the local people.
Sitting MLA Balram Thawani dropped
In preferring Payal Kukrani, the BJP has dropped sitting MLA Balram Thawani for the Naroda seat. Both belong to the Sindhi community but still Payal’s choice has left a section of the BJP leaders in the area unhappy since Kukrani is married to a non-Sindhi.
The Naroda seat has been the BJP’s pocket borough since 1990.
It might be recalled that former BJP minister Maya Kodnani, who had three terms as an MLA until 2007 from Naroda, was also a convict in the Naroda Patiya case but was acquitted by the high court in 2018, nine years after she spent in jail.
Kodnani, meanwhile, continues to be an accused in the Naroda Gam riots case. The riots in Naroda Patiya and Naroda Gam are among the nine major alleged massacre cases sparked off by the burning of a train in Godhra carrying Kar Sewaks returning from Ayodhya on February 27, 2002. These cases were investigated by a Special Investigation Team (SIT).