Ahmedabad is set for an interesting electoral battle this time around. The BJP has been continuously winning this seat since 1989; but post-delimitation has offered a window of opportunity for the Congress as well,thanks to changed community and voter profiles.
Delimitation has impacted this traditional BJP bastion the most,as it is split into two constituencies now,with one (Ahmedabad-West) as a reserved seat. Also,10 new Assembly segments – Dahegam,Gandhinagar (south),Vatva,Nikol,Thakkarbapa Nagar,Bapunagar,Amraiwadi,Dariapur,Jamalpur-Khadia and Danilimda have been carved out in the two newly-formed constituencies,making poll predictions even tougher.
Predictions for Ahmedabad-West (SC) seat will be quite tough,as it has an SC voter base of 2.5 lakh out of the 14.23 lakh-strong electorate. Conservative estimates put the Muslim population in this constituency around 3.5 lakhs. Both these segments have traditionally been Congress supporters. Things will now be difficult for BJP’s Kirit Solanki.
However,the 2005 municipal elections and the 2007 Assembly elections have catapulted the BJP into an invincible force for the Congress to impact. It not only retained power in the state but also wrested seats from the Congress amid adverse propaganda from various quarters.
‘Modi magic’ has worked time and again in various areas,more so in the ambitious projects like Kankaria Lakefront development,Bus Rapid Transit System,Apparel Park and Riverfront projects.
Issues seem non-existent for both the Congress and the BJP,and they have been attacking each other over irrelevant matters. Law and order is a major issue. An upward looking crime graph in the city has baffled the public and the police. Daily incidents of chain snatching,rape,theft,murder and suicide have made the twin constituencies hardly qualify to be part of the mega city.
Poor road network in labour dominated areas,squalor in slums,drainage failures and low-pressure water supply may look like local civic issues. But these,along with the condition of the diamond workers may impact BJP’s poll progress here. The Congress,however,has not been able to mould voter opinion on these issues,thanks to infighting in its rank and file.
Ahmedabad West has a problem with basic infrastructure. Collapse of a number of co-operative banks and its impact on depositors might also take the votes away from the BJP.
The general seat of Ahmedabad (East) will see a direct fight between first-timer Deepak Babaria of the Congress and Harin Pathak of the BJP,a six-time MP. The reserved seat of
Ahmedabad (West) will challenge BJP’s Kirit Solanki whose only advantage is that he hails from Chanama town of Mehsana district and that Ahmedabad has a large population of north Gujarat residents.
Solanki’s rival,Shailesh Parmar,the sitting MLA from Shaherkotda,has the legacy of his late father Manubhai Parmar. Parmar had defeated Jitu Waghela in the 2007 Assembly polls. For both parties,it will be quite a task to win over the backward communities and keep them in their fold.
Many consider this as a seat already in BJP’s pocket,as Harin Pathak has won six consecutive elections from this seat since 1989. To top it,his accessibility to the general public,contacts with grassroots party workers and his proximity to BJP’s prime ministerial candidate L K Advani,will work in his favour.
On the other hand,Congress’ Deepak Babariya,a chemical engineer by profession,is trying hard to put up a fight. Babariya seems confident that his efforts for welfare of distressed diamond workers in Ahmedabad will help him in these elections. He will be banking heavily on the slum population in view of the work he has been doing for slum rehabilitation all these years. But to fight the might of Harin Pathak,he cannot depend beyond a point on this section,although it forms nearly 40 per cent of the population.
Sitting Congress MLA from Saher Kotda,Shailesh Parmar,and BJP’s Dr Kirit Solanki,an accomplished surgeon at V S Hospital,will take on each other. Parmar has a loyal voter base,while Solanki will have to start from scratch. Other BJP leaders like Bharat Barot will work as his political spine. It will be a challenge to bring out the rich yet non-voting population even to attend meetings,while the middle class will play a decisive role.
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