The incident took place on Thursday morning at a ‘Mera Desh, Meri Mitti’ event organised by the Jamnagar Municipal Corporation (JMC). A martyrs’ memorial built by the local association of ex-servicemen was inaugurated on the bank of Lakhota lake in Jamnagar city.
Maadam, two-time sitting MP from Jamnagar, led the gathering in paying floral tribute to the martyrs at the newly-inaugurated memorial. She was followed by Rivaba, the MLA from Jamnagar North, and Kothari.
While the ceremony was on, Jadeja allegedly picked up an argument with Maadam, accusing the MP of passing a negative comment about her when she removed her footwear before paying floral tribute to the martyrs.
According to videos of the heated exchange in Gujarati that went viral, when Kothari tried to intervene, Jadeja was heard telling her – “Tame tamari aukatma raho (You stay within your limits)”. The mayor was then heard telling the MLA not to talk about “aukat”. “Do not talk about aukat. You are talking to the mayor. You kindly go there,” Kothari was heard asking Jadeja to go to her spot.
Following this, Maadam intervened. She asked Jadeja not to talk to the mayor in such a manner and also said that Kothari was elder to her. To this, Jadeja shot back, saying, “You are the one who triggered this fire and now don’t try to douse it… I have seen her (Kothari’s) maturity (vadilpanu) during the election.”
The argument in full media glare and in the presence of local government officials surprised everyone present at the spot.
Jadeja later told mediapersons that she was trying to pay “extra tribute” to martyrs by removing her footwear after Maadam paid her respect while wearing footwear. “The MP happened to be the first to pay tribute and she did that while wearing her chappal. Then it was my turn. We naturally have respect for martyrs and this time round, some extra respect… because our honourable Prime Minister has also said that this is the occasion to remember our real heroes. So, I removed my chappal and paid my tribute.”
“Later on, office-bearers of JMC and the party also paid their tribute by removing their chappals. So, this was an attempt to pay an extra tribute. While the event was on and we were standing on the side- the MP Madam, Mayorshri and I, the MP, in full view of the corporation officials, BJP parivar loudly said that even the Prime Minister and the President do not remove their chappals at such events, but some senseless people (bhan vagar na loko) who knows nothing tries to be oversmart by removing chappals,” Jadeja added.
The MLA said that she reacted publicly, as it was a matter of self-respect. “I was left with no option but to react, as it concerned my self-respect and I didn’t find her comment appropriate,” Jadeja, who won her maiden Assembly election last December last year, added.
When contacted, Kothari only said, “It is a family matter.”
While Maadam could not be reached for a comment, a politician who was among those present at the event, said the MP was talking to the mayor when Jadeja took offence. “The MP felt that Kothari… was struggling to remove her footwear to follow Jadeja’s suit. Therefore, she told Kothari that it would be okay if she paid her tribute with her chappal on, as the PM and the President don’t remove their footware at such occasions and officers of armed forces also lay wreath on memorials in full uniform. But Jadeja felt that Maadam’s comments were directed at her and she took offence.”
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The politician added, “When the MLA picked up an argument, the MP told her that she was not talking to her but to the mayor. This is how the mayor was also drawn into the argument.”
Incidentally, Kothari was one of the two BJP leaders who accompanied Jadeja during her election campaign at Jamnagar North constituency last year.
A senior BJP functionary from Jamnagar said, “This shows the immaturity and ego of Jadeja. This is not the first time this has happened. It has hardly been eight months since she became an MLA and she has been involved in at least three such incidents. She should have restrained herself from going berserk in full public view.”