The Indian Express | 5 days ago | 24-11-2022 | 02:50 pm
AAP chief ministerial candidate Isudan Gadhvi’s decision last June to resign as the editor of VTV Gujarati hours before his hugely popular primetime news show “Mahamanthan” was to go on air surprised the channel. His was their trademark show, with soaring TRPs. His family, which was also not in the know, was equally shocked.Gadhvi had tried convincing them, arguing that a journalist’s impact on the people was limited. But his wife Hiravaben would have none of it. “He used to take on powerful politicians on his show regularly. But as a family, we felt that politics would only invite more trouble in his life. We were not engaged with any form of politics,” says Hirvaben, who got married to Gadhvi 16 years ago.Gadhvi had faced resistance from the family when he decided to pursue a journalist’s career too, with his mother, Maniben, repeatedly advising him to tone down his aggression against the powerful. “After every episode of Mahamanthan, I used to scold him out of concern. He would listen to his father, who passed away in 2014. He takes my advice before any decision, but this time he had made up his mind,” says Maniben, leaning against a chair in the sprawling courtyard of the family’s home at the Pipariya village in Khambhaliya.When they heard about his political plans, Gadhvi says, they tried equally hard to dissuade him. “They said we do not even have a sarpanch in the family. It took me two days to convince them.”The family has since come around, even joining his door-to-door campaign across Khambaliya, where the Congress has repeated incumbent MLA Vikram Madam and the BJP has fielded former MLA Mulu Bera. Addressing a rally Tuesday in the area, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said the people of Khambhaliya will “elect their son” with a thumping majority.On the ground, however, Gadhvi has an uphill battle. A constituency where caste identities have traditionally trumped other factors during voting, the Gadhvi community to which he belongs has only about 14,000 votes.Elders of the Ahir community, the dominant group in the constituency at 54,000 among its approximately 3.2 lakh voters, have traditionally supported either the BJP or the Congress, and say they will not shift loyalties to AAP. “We supported the Congress in large numbers during the last polls. This time, those votes will also shift to the BJP, meaning that Ahir votes will be split between the two parties,” says Ashok Bhai Dangar of the neighbouring Viramdad village.Gadhvi believes “caste politics and equations would go for a toss with AAP, whose USP is work”.However, AAP may lack the organisational heft to counter the patronage networks established by the BJP and Congress over the years, even as it has emerged as a talking point in rural Saurashtra.And so, other than banking on Gadhvi’s popularity as a former celebrity anchor who raised “people’s issues”, AAP is like the others hoping to get the maths right with the support of numerically strong communities such as Satwaras, Muslims, Dalits and Kshatriyas. The party is also addressing fundamental issues such as the water crisis. A local resident, Dinesh Luna, says he supplies water drums measuring 750 litres to farmlands and families.Its pitch on unemployment finds resonance with a section of the youth in the area. “I completed my graduation from a college in Jamnagar. Now I am running a kirana shop here. Private companies won’t pay more than Rs 12,000 per month,” says 23-year-old Shakti Jam.Back in Pipriya, Govind Dayani reminisces about his childhood friend, whom he calls a “tiger”. “We were classmates till Class 6, until he moved to a hostel in Khambaliya. He came from a fairly affluent family but hung around with us. Our life didn’t go anywhere. Par dekho wo kahan pohuch gaya (but look at where he has reached).”
NEW DELHI: Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge on Tuesday hit out at the Bhartiya Janata Party for relying heavily on Prime Minister Narendra Modi for every election. Addressing a rally in poll-bound Gujarat, Kharge compared PM Modi to 'Ravan', evoking strong reaction from the BJP. Unable to take the heat of Gujarat election, pushed to the fringe, Congress national president Mallikarjun Kharge l… https://t.co/dtloqR36kc— Amit Malviya (@amitmalviya) 1669696217000“We see your (Modi’s) face in corporation elections, MLA elections or MP elections, everywhere… Do you have 100 heads like Ravan?” Kharge said at a rally in Ahmedabad. “I’ve been seeing that votes are sought in the name of Modiji, be it municipality elections, corporation elections (or assembly elections) … Ask for vote in the name of the candidate … is Modi going to come and work at the municipality? Is he going to help you in times of your need? Kharge said. “If the BJP believed it was winning in Gujarat, then Modiji, who should have been in Delhi working for the Central government, would not have been forced to tour the alleys of Gujarat, visiting every assembly segment … He is going to every ward of Gujarat. He is going, Shah is going, four-five other chief ministers are going, more than 40 Union ministers are going … Because they got to know people are against them and they can see it," Kharge added. The BJP reacted strongly to the Congress president's remark and slammed Kharge for insulting the Prime Minister. BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra said, "Congress chief Mallikarjun Kharge called PM Modi 'Ravan'. Using such language for a PM, for the son of Gujarat isn't appropriate. It is condemnable and shows Congress' mindset. It's an insult not just to PM Modi. It is an insult to every Gujarati, to Gujarat." Kharge is non-Gandhi-Nehru-family chief of Congress & so making such remarks (Modi 100-head Ravan) for limelight. W… https://t.co/005v94c2AU— DeshGujarat (@DeshGujarat) 1669705989000BJP leader Amit Malviya said, “Unable to take the heat of Gujarat election, pushed to the fringe, Congress national president Mallikarjun Kharge loses control over his words, calls Prime Minister Narendra Modi “Ravan”. From “Maut ka Saudagar” to “Ravan”, Congress continues to insult Gujarat and it’s son.” Today is the last day of campaigning for the first phase of elections in Gujarat. In the first phase on December 1, voting will be held on 89 out of the total 182 seats. Voting for the remaining 93 seats will be held on December 5 in second phase. Watch 'Do you have 100 heads like Ravana?' Mallikarjun Kharge's latest jibe at PM Narendra Modi
Mansa assembly seat, which is part of the Mahesana parliamentary constituency, seems to be a neck-and-neck battle between the BJP and the Congress, with poll outcomes partly decided by people voting along community lines. This year’s battle will be between JS Patel from BJP, Thakor Babusinh Mohansinh from the Congress party, and Bhaskar Patel caste Jayanti Patel aka JS Patel who has been associated with BJP since its Jana Sangha days, belongs to the Patidar community, while Congress candidate Babuji Thakor, is from the Thakor community and is in the transport business. Of the 2.28 lakh voters in Mansa assembly constituency, Patidars account for approximately 46,000 votes, Thakors 42,000, OBCs (Other Backward Classes) 34,000 Rajputs 29,000, Chaudharys 22,000, and Scheduled Castes 17,000. The remaining belong to minority communities, the Scheduled Tribes, and other castes. The question, however, remains that will the poll politics extend beyond caste and address the pressing issues among citizens. Speaking with the residents, the region seems to be riddled with several major problems including poor education infrastructure, poor roads, and slow economic development. Piyushbhai Panchal, social worker, says, “Mansa is truly underdeveloped in the education sector. Students have to go to other cities for higher education.” Rasikbhai Patel, businessman, states that local employment is less, since there’s only 1 Gujarat Industrial Development Corporation (GIDC) in the region. No major company has entered the industrial complex in the last ten years. The newer generation who is educated has to go to Ahmedabad for employment opportunities. Rakeshbhai Rahi, teacher, says “traffic is a big issue in Mansa. Due to illegal construction, traffic has become a big problem. Stray animals including cows and dogs also add to the traffic. In addition, negligence by the municipal corporation has posed the problem of potholes and gutters on roads.” The BJP had won consecutively from the Mansa seat from 1995 till 2007. Although Mansa was traditionally a BJP stronghold, the saffron party has been losing the Mansa assembly seat since 2012. Interestingly enough, Amitbhai Harisingbhai Chaudhary of the Congress who defeated the local BJP heavyweight D.D. Patel by 8,028 votes in 2012, later defected to the BJP and contested in 2017 from Masa on the party's ticket. However, he lost to the Congress candidate, Sureshkumar Chaturdas Patel, by a thin margin of 524 votes. In fact, BJP’s tally in Gujarat had dropped to a two-decade low of 99 in the 182-member legislative assembly in 2017. What makes this loss even more surprising is that Mansa is Amit Shah’s hometown, located in Gujarat’s Gandhinagar district, where he spent 16 years of his early life and where extended family members still reside. The union minister is often touted as BJP’s “election machine” and so the expectations lay heavy when the constituency in question is Shah’s own hometown. Having said that, this time with a new candidate and a fresh approach, Shah is indeed involved behind the scenes to bring BJP a seventh consecutive win in Gujarat. Elections will be held on 89 seats in the first phase on December 1 and on 93 seats in the second second on December 5. Counting of votes will be taken up on December 8.
Chhotubhai Vasava is contesting from Jhagadia (File)Jhagadia: The residence of seven-time MLA and Bharatiya Tribal Party (BTP) founder Chhotubhai Vasava in Vasna village of Gujarat's Bharuch district is unusually calm with very little activity, quite odd for someone contesting Assembly polls that are less than a week away.This time, Chhotubhai Vasava is contesting as an independent from his traditional Jhagadia seat in the district, from where he has won seven times in a row.The candidates of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), and the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), however, are slugging it out, hitting the ground, meeting voters, and seeking to wrest the seat held tightly by the septuagenarian leader for the last 32 years."I don't need to go out now. I don't have to buy votes. My workers are campaigning for me, visiting villages. I know people in every village and their issues," the 78-year-old leader told PTI.In the past three decades, Congress as well as the BJP have ended up as runners-up in the battle against Vasava. The Congress won this seat, reserved for the tribal community, in 1985 - nearly four decades.Be it any party's wave, Vasava held on to his bastion firmly, contesting either as an independent or a candidate of Janata Dal, Janta Dal (United) or BTP.But this time things are different, say his rivals.They look determined to snatch the seat from the ageing patriarch who holds sway in the tribal belt of Gujarat and Rajasthan.Two chief ministers - Bhagwant Mann (Punjab) and Yogi Adityanath (Uttar Pradesh), belonging to the AAP and BJP, respectively - have already campaigned for their candidates, while Prime Minister Narendra Modi also canvassing for the ruling party in this constituency speaks of the importance attached to the seat.But in the run-up to the next month's polls, there was a twist in the tale. Vasava's son and BTP president Mahesh Vasava entered the fray from Jhagadia as the party's official candidate. Soon later, his father jumped into the poll arena as an independent, revealing the fissures in the family.Finally, Mahesh, the sitting MLA from the Dediapada constituency, withdrew from the contest to avoid making it a father versus son fight. So now, the seat does not have any official candidate from the BTP.This time, the BTP initially tied up with the AAP only to walk out of the alliance."I was never willing to ally with the AAP," Chhotubhai Vasava said.The BJP has fielded Ritesh Vasava (46), a former associate of Chhotubhai.The saffron party is also going all out to win this seat. UP CM Adityanath was among the star campaigners for the party that canvassed for him."PM Narendra Modi will address a rally in Netrang tehsil (which is part of the Jhagadia seat) on November 27," Ritesh said.He said education, health and roads will be at the top of his agenda if he is elected."I have worked with him (Chhotubhai) for 20 years, so I know how he works. The BJP has won the panchayat samitis in Jhagadia, Valia and Netrang (all three tehsils in the constituency), and it will also win this seat this time," he said.The Congress has fielded Fatehsinhbhai Vasava, while the AAP's Bharuch district president Urmila Bhagat is in the fray.Bhagat is seeking votes on the assurances of 300 units of free electricity, Rs 3,000 unemployment allowance and Rs 1,000 allowance to women above the age of 18 years. Plus, the development in the areas of health and education, Bhagat added.But Chhotubhai Vasava looks unperturbed."My support (among the tribals) has not receded," he said.Jhagadia goes to polling on December 1, in the first phase of the two-phased Assembly elections. With 2,58,955 voters, the economic activity of this area is largely around the Gujarat Industrial Development Corporation (GIDC).As one enters Vasna village, the roads are smooth. There are posters of BTP candidate Mahesh Vasava (who withdrew from the race later) in some houses.Barely 100 meters from his residence lives Suresh Vasava, a 27-year-old agricultural labourer and father of three (one son and two daughters). Suresh said there is no water in his locality despite a tap that was recently provided.Suresh said he makes Rs 200 a day by working in the fields of others. He received money to build toilets under the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, but it is too small and water is an issue, so he goes out to relieve himself.Near him is 21-year-old Vishal Vasava, who will cast his vote for the first time in an assembly poll. Vishal could not clear his matriculation and works as an electrician in a company in the nearby GIDC and earns Rs 5,000. His main issue is there is no mobile network in his area which becomes a problem in an emergency.They did not specify their voting preference.In Selod village, two friends - Bhavesh Vasava (a daily wage labourer) and Malik Salman (who runs a small eatery in the GIDC), both 28 - do not complain of any major lack of amenities.Bhavesh said he will vote for Chhotubhai, as always.Salman did not specify his voting preference but said the contest is tough as Chhotubhai has been an MLA for the last seven terms and there is a lot of anti-incumbency.PromotedListen to the latest songs, only on JioSaavn.comBack in the main town of Jhagadia, a man, a BJP supporter, who runs an eatery said the saffron party candidate will trounce Chhotubhai, citing anti-incumbency. Featured Video Of The Day"Both Are Assets": Rahul Gandhi Amid Ashok Gehlot vs Sachin Pilot
Anant Patel, 45, successfully led the agitation to block the Par Tapi Narmada river-linking project announced in the Union Budget. A former sarpanch who won his first Assembly election in 2017 to become the Congress MLA from Vansda, Patel belongs to the Dodhia tribe. Contesting from the Vansda seat for the second time, Patel speaks about the Adivasi vs Vanvasi debate, how development has not reached the Adivasis, and why joining politics was important for him.PATEL: Adivasi. Rahul Gandhi also said it. When the whole world knows us as Adivasi, indigenous people, a (distinction) is being created that while adivasi means someone from adi-kaal (ancient times), vanvasi means one who lives in the forest… Like Rahul Gandhi said, Adivasis are the original owners of the land. These RSS people, BJP people don’t think like that. They feel that all the resources are in the Adivasi area – jal, jungle, zameen – and how to take these away by calling them Vanvasi.Now the Mumbai-Delhi corridor is also passing through Unai, so is the Bharatmala (road development) project. The Surat-Ahmednagar-Chennai road passes through 23 villages here. All these projects are going past the 14 districts of Adivasis.PATEL: In Kevadia, they said there is so much development and that Adivasis will get employment. But what do they mean by employment? Changing sheets of a hotel room or doing the dishes is employment? We don’t want such employment where the Adivasi has to change the sheets, wash dishes or sweep the floor. Take Saputara, all seven villages were displaced to Navagam, which has no panchayat. So they have no rights to vote for the taluka or zilla panchayat.PATEL: I am not talking about the Congress or the BJP. I am talking about Adivasis. So, do you want to continue the same thing or bring about some change? The Congress at least gave us land. They made us farmers, farm labourers. These people talk about stealing your land… No hotel owner in Saputara is an Adivasi. If you acquire so much land, at least give hotels to 25 Adivasis to run… In these 27 years, the BJP has not done anything good for the Adivasis. In February 2017, they brought in the PESA (Panchayat Extension to Scheduled Areas Act), but in a weaker form than the 1996 law.How do you say that?PATEL: All the power of the gram sabhas was taken away. They only have the power to decide on timru (used in Ayurveda products) leaves and honey harvesting. Earlier the gram sabha could clear projects that came up on village land; in any police case, what the gram sabha said was final… (Now) in 23 villages, gram sabhas have said they don’t want the Bharatmala project, yet they have finalised it… The Surat-Ahmednagar-Chennai road was to pass through Surat, but because Surat is so developed, they are diverting it via Navsari. They don’t want to disturb the cities.When Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched his campaign from Kaprada, he said that for him, A is for Adivasi.PATEL: So, should we eat that to survive? What is the meaning of that? A for Adivasi, then A for Adani, and A is for Anant (Patel) too. What is the benefit to us?The PM also said that projects like the Vanbandhu Kalyan Yojana give opportunities to Adivasis to become engineers, doctors, learn English…PATEL: Is there a single English-medium school in villages except Eklavya schools? They closed 6,000 schools in the name of merging, of which 58 were in Vansda. We took out rallies and did not allow even one to close. There was a secondary school in Kurelia. They have built a compound, a hostel, there is a cook, but the school has not started as there is no teacher….PATEL: Nearly 50,000 families would have got displaced. Not only that our culture, hopes and identity would go. There is a sizeable leopard population (in the area), and Asia’s largest spider species. When the Narmada dam was still to be built, bears would come to the area, but no longer… We worked hard to flatten the hilly terrain for farming, and now will we allow it to get submerged? We have demanded a white paper (on the project).It will always be the case that a water-rich region will provide for an arid area. What is the solution?PATEL: You take water for drinking, we have no problem. But not for industries… Why build Sardar Vallabhbhai statue in Kevadia, evacuate 33 villages? Why break up villages? Why build hotels to develop a place?PATEL: Isn’t Medha Patkar a citizen of the country? If I am doing an andolan (agitation), and a BJP minister comes, should I tell them to leave? This is Bharat Jodo Yatra, it is not under a banner, Rahul Gandhi is just leading it. It is not a Congress yatra.… Anybody who tries to do good for Adivasis, their image is slowly distorted. I don’t know if I will still be alive (by then), but they might call me Naxalite in a few days.After former CM Amarsinh Chaudhary, there has been no tribal leader. Why is that?PATEL: No party allows a (tribal) leader to rise, the Congress included. But so far (in my party), nobody has stopped me from doing anything. I have told them that for me, samaj (community) is first, and the party second. I will not leave the party, but samaj comes first. Were I not from the Adivasi samaj, would I have got a mandate here? I don’t fight from a general seat, that I have to follow what the party says.The Congress had won 17 of the 27 tribal seats last time (two in alliance with Bharatiya Tribal Party), but six of the MLAs defected to BJP. Were you also approached?PATEL: The problem with political parties is that those who get elected, don’t leave their seats till they die. If they leave, only then can youths get a chance. So if you want a party to come to power, this kind of churn on its own is good.PATEL: I became a leader from the party. I believe that any leader, if he wants to do something for their community, be it Hardik (Patel), Jignesh (Mevani) or Alpesh (Thakor), it is very necessary that they join a political party. If the party forms the government, they can get work done. Before I got to the Vidhan Sabha in 2017, I thought it was not necessary that a samajik leader is a (political) leader. But that is not the case. When you reach the Assembly and something wrong happens with your samaj, you can raise your voice… I said this to Jignesh, and only after that did he come to the Congress. I said this to Hardik and also Alpesh… You cannot be two-faced. If you don’t join an andolan (agitation), and demand a ticket in the name of the community and fight on reserved seats, how does that work either?PATEL: The implementation of the 1996 PESA and Schedule 5 (giving special rights), big-ticket projects that damage the environment and cause displacement, Adivasi identity, employment.PATEL: The identity of the Adivasi is the same, he still has his feet on the ground, he still grows paddy. No matter how much I tell my father to sow sugarcane, he will grow paddy, even if it is one bigha… That has not changed even if he follows Christianity. His sanskriti is the same.
Isudan Gadhvi was a popular Gujarati news anchor before entering politics. (File)Khambhalia: The contest in Khambhalia has emerged as one to watch out for after the Aam Aadmi Party's chief ministerial candidate Isudan Gadhvi decided to contest from the seat where he is locked in a keen triangular fight with incumbent Congress MLA Vikram Madam and BJP's Mulubhai Bera.A popular Gujarati news anchor before entering politics by joining the AAP, Gadhvi enjoys a good image and has emerged as his party's main campaigner in the state but social equations in the constituency pose a challenge to him, poll watchers say. Both Madam, a seasoned politician and also a former Lok Sabha MP, and Bera, a former state government minister, come from the Ahir community, which is the largest caste in the seat where Muslim votes are also significant.Poll watchers say caste will play an important role in deciding voting preference and the AAP leader, whose community Gadhvi is numerically much less, has a disadvantage and Muslims may prefer the Congress. However, Gadhvi has projected himself as the son of a farmer who will work for everyone and not pander to community identities.AAP leader and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has claimed that Gadhvi will win with a record margin.Both Congress and BJP workers have claimed that the contest is between their two parties and the AAP will finish third in the fight.However, AAP members assert that the two traditionally big parties are "jolted" by their party's entry.The BJP had won the seat in 2007 and 2012 but lost to the Congress in a bypoll in 2014. The opposition party retained the seat in 2017.Khambhalia falls in Devbhoomi Dwarka district, a part of Saurashtra region which goes to the polls on December 1 in the first phase of the Gujarat polls.PromotedListen to the latest songs, only on JioSaavn.comThe second phase is scheduled for December 5 and the counting of votes is due on December 8.(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)Featured Video Of The DayAttack On Aaftab Poonawala: Vigilantism Over Law?