Gujarat NEWS : BJP Internal Rivalries Surface Again in NAFED Elections as Mohan Kundariya Declared Unopposed

Mohan Kundariya, hailing from Rajkot, filed his nomination for the NAFED director's post amidst competition from four other candidates


RAJKOT, GUJARAT : In the wake of the BJP’s internal conflicts following the defeat of its official candidate in the IFFCO elections, a similar battle unfolded in the elections for the National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation of India (NAFED). Mohan Kundariya, sitting BJP MP of Rajkot, supported by IFFCO director Jayesh Radadia, was declared elected unopposed as four other candidates withdrew their nominations.

Mohan Kundariya, hailing from Rajkot, filed his nomination for the NAFED director’s post amidst competition from four other candidates. With 210 voters, primarily from Rajkot district, the election was set for a contentious battle. However, on Wednesday, the last day to withdraw nominations, cooperative leaders persuaded the other candidates to step down, allowing Kundariya to be declared the unopposed winner by consensus.

NAFED, a leading cooperative organization with a turnover of Rs. 21,414 crores and a net profit of Rs. 264 crores last year, was established in 1958 and holds significant influence in India’s agricultural sector. The special election for the NAFED director’s post was scheduled for May 21, 2024. Initially, five candidates, including Kundariya, had filed their nominations. However, following verification on Tuesday and strategic withdrawals on Wednesday, Kundariya emerged as the sole candidate.

The election process saw intervention from cooperative leaders aiming to prevent a repeat of the IFFCO scenario, where BJP’s internal conflicts led to a contentious election. By ensuring Kundariya’s unopposed victory, the leaders hoped to avoid further controversy within the party. A cooperative leader remarked, “If BJP candidates compete against each other, it would only fuel internal discord. Achieving consensus was essential to maintain party unity.”

Magan Wadaviya, president of Morbi Panthaki’s Khakrala Mandal and director of Rajkot district bank, had previously been elected unopposed in the NAFED elections of 2019. This time, he backed Kundariya, indicating the strong influence of Jayesh Radadia’s support. “Mohan Kundariya’s candidature had the backing of the Radadia group, ensuring his unopposed election,” noted a party insider.

The broader context of these elections involves the Gujarat BJP’s new mandate system, introduced by state president CR Paatil in July 2020. This system, which mandates party candidates for cooperative sector elections, has created friction among BJP-affiliated politicians who feel constrained by the party’s centralized control. The IFFCO election exemplified this tension, with multiple BJP candidates competing and leading to a split vote. Ultimately, Jayesh Radadia emerged victorious in that election.

NAFED’s elections are significant, with 21 directors elected every five years from a total electorate of 556 members nationwide, 210 of whom are from Gujarat. This large representation underlines Gujarat’s influence in the cooperative sector.

Reflecting on the recent developments, a senior BJP leader commented, “The practice of party mandates in cooperative elections aims to streamline our approach, but it also brings to light the inherent challenges of managing diverse interests within the party.”