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Gujarat riots convict campaigns alongside daughter contesting on BJP ticket

Hyderabad: The ruling BJP in Gujarat has sparked outrage by nominating Naroda Patiya massacre case convict Payal Kukrani from the Naroda seat in the upcoming Assembly elections. Manoj Kukrani, a life-term offender who has been free on bail since 2015, is now assisting his daughter with her election campaign.

Previously, the BJP found itself in the crosshairs after fielding Chandrasinh Raulji from the Godhra constituency. Raulji referred to the Bilkis Bano inmates as ‘Sanskari Brahmins’ and was a member of a Gujarat government commission that provided remission to the convicts serving life sentences.

Payal, an anesthesiologist by profession with no political experience, has taken over as the party’s candidate from Balram Thawani, the current BJP MLA from Naroda. Opposition parties claim that this is more proof that she was chosen only to reward riot offenders by the BJP.

According to a report by NDTV, During the campaign, Manoj was received cordially by Thawani and BJP party activists.

Many are aghast that the BJP has fielded Payal from the same constituency where the Naroda Patiya atrocity occurred. Her father was one of 32 individuals convicted in 2012 of being a member of a mob that killed 97 people in Naroda during the Gujarat riots in 2002.

Manoj has spent most of his time in jail on interim bail since his conviction, the report cited his neighbours.

When asked about her father’s involvement in her campaign, Payal stated that his father’s conviction had been contested in court.

“My father has been an experienced politician. I don’t want to comment on my father’s conviction because we have appealed against it in the Supreme Court. We’re still fighting it, but all I can tell you is that my father, mother and all BJP leaders are helping me in my election campaign and we will win on the issue of development,” Payal said.

Other family members also said Manoj didn’t do anything wrong. Manoj’s brother, Dr Puroshottam Harvani, said: “Manoj got convicted for no fault of his. He was just there. He didn’t do anything wrong. His name was dragged into it, that’s why he’s suffering,” the NDTV report cited.

“Public doesn’t care about the age-old occurrence; public cares about Modi ji and his development,” he continued, referring to the Naroda Patya slaughter.

Omprakash, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) candidate from Naroda, slammed the BJP’s choice of candidate, saying, “BJP must have thought that Manoj Kukrani had contributed for the party by instigating the Naroda Patiya massacre and he offered a big sacrifice by going to jail for it, so a reward must be given to him. That’s why his wife is a BJP corporator and his daughter Payal who has never been in politics, is now a candidate for MLA.”

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