Times of India | 6 days ago | 23-11-2022 | 11:17 am
NEW DELHI: A good showing in the 50-odd SC/ST dominated seats in Gujarat can make or break the fortunes of a party in the state elections. But no single party can claim a domination of this prized chunk, going by the results of the past two elections. In 2012, most of the SC seats, spread across Kutch, north and central Gujarat, and the Ahmedabad-Gandhinagar urban belt, favoured the BJP. The saffron party bagged 15 of 20 SC seats, against 5 bagged by the Congress. But the 2017 polls threw up a different picture with the Congress faring better with 10 seats. BJP had to be content with 9. Not to be forgotten- the 2017 elections followed the Patidar agitation, and the community's demand for OBC status and reservation. Patidar leader Hardik Patel throwing his weight behind the Congress probably helped the party improve its tally. But it is a changed scenario this time, with Patel in the fray as a BJP candidate. Most of Gujarat's 32 ST seats are along a fringe bordering Madhya Pradesh. These have been an even split between the Congress and BJP, both in 2012 and 2017. The saffron party won 15 seats in 2012 while the Congress walked away with 16. In 2017, the BJP's tally fell marginally to 14, while the Congress bettered its performance by winning 17 seats. The BJP has been wooing tribals with several schemes, and also claiming credit for giving the country its first tribal President in Droupadi Murmu. It will be interesting to see how these factors resonate among the tribal electorate.
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
Mr Kharge made the comments while addressing a rally in Ahmedabad ahead of polls next month.New Delhi: Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge's comment calling Prime Minister Narendra Modi "Ravan" has triggered a political row in the middle of the Gujarat election campaign.The BJP has accused Mr Kharge of "insulting Gujarat's son" repeatedly.Mr Kharge made the comments while addressing a rally in Ahmedabad ahead of polls next month."Modi ji is Prime Minister. Forgetting his work, he keeps campaigning in corporation elections, MLA elections, MP elections, everywhere... All the time he's talking about himself - 'You don't have to see anyone else, just look at Modi and vote'. How many times do we see your face? How many forms do you have? Do you have 100 heads like Ravan?" Mr Kharge said, drawing laughter and applause from his audience.The Congress chief said in every election, candidates sought votes in the name of PM Modi.मोदी जी प्रधानमंत्री हैं। वह काम छोड़कर नगर निगम का चुनाव, MLA का चुनाव, MP के चुनाव में प्रचार करते रहते हैं।हर वक्त अपनी ही बात करते हैं - 'आप किसी को मत देखो, मोदी को देखकर वोट दो।'आपकी सूरत कितनी बार देखें? आपके कितने रूप हैं? क्या रावण की तरह 100 मुख हैं?- @kharge जी pic.twitter.com/Iy6hYQfuhc— Congress (@INCIndia) November 29, 2022"I've been seeing that votes are sought in the name of Modiji, be it municipality elections, corporation elections or state elections...Ask for votes 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," the Congress veteran asked.Amit Malviya, who heads the BJP's IT Cell, shared the video with a sharp comment.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… pic.twitter.com/je5lkU4HBw— Amit Malviya (@amitmalviya) November 29, 2022"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 its son...," Mr Malviya wrote.PromotedListen to the latest songs, only on JioSaavn.comThe tweet referred to former Congress president Sonia Gandhi's controversial "Maut ka Saudagar (merchant of death)" comment during the 2007 Gujarat election, targeting PM Modi - who was Chief Minister - over the 2002 riots.Gujarat will vote on December 1 and 5 and the results will be declared on December 8.
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?
The BJP converted Ahmedabad — the city of Begum and Badshah — to Karnavati, while successive Congress governments made Gujarat unsafe through communal riots and smuggling of arms for terrorist activities through porous borders, said Union Minister Amit Shah at Naranpura in Ahmedabad Monday.“BJP sealed the borders, sent smugglers to jail and forced them to leave Gujarat; thus, saving the entire western India from terrorism. Congress governments made Gujarat unsafe through communal riots and smuggling for arms for terrorist activities through porous borders,” Shah said. He also alleged that the Congress tried to delay the Sardar Sarovar project since the dam was named after Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel.While speaking about how the BJP has enforced law and order in the state, he referred to how Jagannath Rath Yatra had to be stopped due to communal riots in Ahmedabad. He also said not a single police station in Gujarat had to impose a single day of curfew in the past 20 years.Talking about the Sabarmati Riverfront, Shah said the Congress had agitated saying that the land acquired on the banks of Sabarmati will be given away to industrialists. “Today, the riverfront has become the centre of activity in the city,” he reminded.Shah also highlighted the party’s efforts to ensure that Ahmedabad could host the Olympic Games in 2036.Earlier in the day, as he addressed an election campaign for BJP candidate Ketan Inamdar at Savli Assembly seat in Vadodara, Shah blamed the Congress for delaying the Sardar Sarovar project since the dam was named after Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel.“(Pandit Jawaharlal) Nehru had laid the foundation stone of the dam in 1961, even before I was born, but it was Morarji Desai’s ‘mistake’ that he named it after Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel. The moment the dam became Sardar Sarovar, the Congress stepped back and did not want to complete the project… They couldn’t make do with the name,” alleged Shah.Referring to former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh as “mauni Baba”, Shah also blamed the Congress’s “vote bank politics” for the continuous attacks on Indian soldiers by Pakistan.Shah attributed the completion of the project to Modi’s grit during his tenure as the Chief Minister of Gujarat due to which the Central Government was forced to clear the construction of the dam.“The Congress leaders ask what benefit Savli has if the Narmada water reaches Saurashtra and Kutch… Will it not benefit Savli when those areas prosper because of Narmada water and bring along overall growth? But how does one explain this to the Congress because the distance between Congress and wisdom is 300 miles,” he charged.Yet again reminding the “lesson taught” to rioters during the 2002 riots of Gujarat, Shah said, “They (Congress) orchestrated the Hindu-Muslim riots and ensured that there was a curfew for 250 of the 365 days… Bombs used to be found from homes of their cabinet ministers and 200 people would get stabbed daily in Ahmedabad jail. In 2001, when Narendrabhai became the chief minister, no man had the courage to cast an evil eye on the rath yatra of Lord Jagannath… The Congress had backed rioters always and so in 2002, they (miscreants) made another attempt to create a riot. But they were taught such a lesson that they never lifted their heads again.”Due to “vote bank politics”, Shah alleged, for 10 years until 2014, the UPA government did nothing when “the Pakistanis would come and cut the heads of our soldiers”. “In 2014, Narendra Modi became the PM but Pakistan did not realise what difference it would make if the BJP was in power… When Pakistan attacked Pulwama and killed our soldiers, within 10 days, Narendrabhai gave orders to the Army and Airforce to teach them a lesson… He has sent across a message that no one should play around with the borders and soldiers of India or they will have to pay a price.”