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Tribal voters to call shots as BJP,Congress go all out to woo them

This constituency bordering Madhya Pradesh is dominated by over 45 per cent of tribals belonging to the Rathwa and Tadvi tribes.

April 22, 2009 11:28:54 pm

This constituency bordering Madhya Pradesh is dominated by over 45 per cent of tribals belonging to the Rathwa and Tadvi tribes. Four times MP from this seat,Naran Rathwa,had lost to BJP’s Ramsinh Rathwa in the 1999 Lok Sabha elections,but he bounced back in 2004 with 44.36 per cent votes. The seat is of much significance since Naran Rathwa is the minister of state for railways.

The constituency also includes the small princely state of Pratapsinhji (a descendent of Patai Rawal of Champaner) where Chief Minister Narendra Modi has been trying to woo the tribal voters through his Van Bandhu Kalyan Yojana.

In 2007,the Gujarat State Tribal Development Department had started the first-ever tribal BPO training in Chhota Udepur. But the Congress is not far behind in the wooing game. Naran Rathwa has been trying to start a broad gauge line between Chhota Udepur and Vadodara. 

Modi has already vouched for BJP candidate Ramsinh Rathwa during his April 16 public meeting in his own Assembly constituency. Incidentally,Ramsinh Rathwa was a Rajya Sabha MP of the Congress party before he defected to the BJP.

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The issues

The major issues are migration,poor state of education,anomalies in the state transport bus services,unemployment and water scarcity.

In Rajpipla and Tilakwada,the availability of water continues to be a problem despite the state government having spent big money on the Karjan Dam. Moreover,the constituency also has people who were rehabilitated from the SSNNL downstream in Maharasthra and whose several demands are still pending. Along with Karjan Dam,the state government had suggested building the Lalpur Dam for Sankeda taluka,but due to Ramsinh Rathwa’s opposition,work on the dam stopped.

Ramsinh Rathwa told Newsline,“I had raised the issue of several people becoming landless as a result of the increase in the dam height.” 

Lack of employment opportunities has made the youths migrate to Saurashtra as farm labourers.

The transportation issue had come to light in the wake of the Bodeli mishap of April 16,2008 in which 41 students and three others were killed. The parents of the deceased schoolchildren are still dissatisfied,as a high school is yet to come up even a year after the incident. The contesting candidates have said that it takes time to start a school.

The candidates

BJP’s Ramsinh Rathwa is an MSU Fine Arts graduate,while the Congress’ Naran Rathwa has a master degree in social work. From 1980-1994,Ramsinh was elected to the Rajya Sabha. Naran Rathwa has won the LS polls twice.

The constituency also has Bahujan Samaj Party’s Prakash Soma and Vithal Vasva,who is contesting as an Independent. Following delimitation,Sankheda,Padra,Ghoghamba and Jambughoda Assembly constituencies have now come under the Chhota Udepur Lok Sabha constituency.

These Assembly constituencies were won by the BJP in the 2007 Assembly polls. Some areas in Chhota Udepur were affected by the 2002 riots.

All the four candidates are now focussing on improving the state transport bus services after the Bodeli mishap.

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