Unlike other candidates in the poll fray, Dr Heena Gavit did not head to the counting centre on the day of the electoral verdict. A post-graduate student of Grant Medical College, the 26-year-old BJP candidate from Nandurbar was busy appearing for her MD exam.
By the end of the day, she emerged as one of the BJP’s giant killers, defeating Congress veteran Manikrao Gavit, 80, who has been representing the Nandurbar tribal seat since 1967, by a margin of over 1 lakh votes.
“This election is a dream come true for me as I have many dreams for Nandurbar. The Congress MP who was elected many times has lost touch with the common man and has done no development in the region. I want to bring development, better medical facilities and progress here,” said Heena, daughter of former state minister Dr Vijaykumar Gavit.
On the decision to join the BJP and the tribal population’s apparent acceptance of the party, she said tribals who migrate to Gujarat have seen for themselves the development in the state. “People wanted a change, and bouyed by the first-hand experience of development there, they voted for me,” she said.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, senior Congress leaders said Vijayrao’s image as a man of the masses played an important role in ensuring his daughter’s victory. On the other hand, Manikrao, who was seen as the face of the tribal constituency and tribal politics in the state, seemed to have lost his connect with the people, said political observers.
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Nandurbar was seen as a Congress stronghold, with the party holding five of the six assembly segments in the area.