Gujarat cabinet minister Kunvarji Bavaliya said on Wednesday that he would help the ten persons including two Congress MLAs, convicted for rioting in his support when he was arrested in 2008, in a legal fight.
Bavaliya, a five-time Congress MLA, joined the BJP only last year and was made Water Supply and Animal Husbandry minister.
A court in Rajkot on Tuesday sentenced 10 persons including Congress MLAs Bhikhabhai Joshi and Mohammad Javed Pirzada to one year in jail.
They were accused of rioting and vandalising public property during a protest after Bavaliya, then Congress MLA, was arrested in a case of land grabbing. The case was quashed by the Gujarat High Court last week.
"The order sentencing them to one year's imprisonment is a court order, so it will have to be accepted. But I will help them in filing appeal in higher courts because they got into trouble because of me, and so it is my responsibility," the minister said.
"In 2008, the state government registered a false case against me when I was Congress MLA, and I was arrested by the CID. Because of their love and affection, leaders from my party (Congress) and members from my community called for my release," Bavaliya, a prominent Koli leader, said.
"A group of people, including Congress MLAs and some leaders approached the Collector with a memorandum against my arrest when an agitated mob resorted to vandalism," he said.
Some of those convicted in the case, including Rajkot Dairy chairman Govind Ranpariya, Rajkot Co-operative Bank director Gordhan Dhameliya and former MP Devji Fatepara, later joined the BJP.
State BJP president Jitu Vaghani had attacked the opposition party over the convictions, saying it showed the Congress' "mentality to cause damage to society and resort to vandalism" in the light of the recent anti-Citizenship law protests.
Bavaliya, however, said there can be no politics over the court's ruling.