The BJP has fielded a former MLA, who reportedly saved lives after the deadly bridge collapse at Gujarat’s Morbi, in next month’s election in the state.
Kantilal Amrutiya, 60, is the BJP’s candidate from Morbi. The current MLA of Morbi, Brijesh Merja, has been dropped.
Mr Amrutiya was seen in videos wearing a life tube and trying to rescue people who fell into the river after the cables of the century-old bridge snapped on October 30.
Various reports said he “jumped into the river to save lives”. The act won him a BJP “ticket” to contest the Gujarat election from the Morbi constituency, sources said.
Mr Amrutiya was not on the BJP’s original list of Gujarat candidates, said the sources.
Some 135 people died in the bridge disaster, one of the worst in recent times.
The BJP, which has ruled Gujarat – Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s home state – for 22 years, has faced a huge backlash over the way the bridge maintenance contract was given to a Gujarat-based clockmaker, Oreva.
Oreva, known for making clocks, watches, fans, e-bikes and LED lights, won a 15-year contract to operate and maintain the bridge despite its lack of experience in repairing public infrastructure.
The British-era bridge was reopened after nearly seven months of renovation, ahead of schedule, and people were charged Rs 17 for tickets. Investigations revealed that the structure snapped under the weight of close to 500 people. Though the flooring was new and heavier, the old rusty cables were not replaced.
Nine people have been arrested, including officials of the company, ticket sellers and security guards, but the top bosses of Oreva are missing.
Gujarat will vote on December 1 and 5 and the results will be declared on December 8.