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BJP’s 7-time winner from Gujarat’s Dwarka says not elected, ‘but selected by all’

The 2022 Gujarat Assembly election marks the second time in succession that Pabubha Manek and Mulu Kandoriya will be facing off against each other, with the margin between them in 2012 also almost the same.

UP CM Yogi Adityanath with BJP MLA Pabubha Manek at an election campaign in Dwarka on November 23. (Express photo by Chitral Khambhati)

Pabubha Manek, the BJP candidate from Dwarka, has never lost an election from the Assembly seat – winning it consecutively seven times, since 1990. The last time he defeated the Congress’ Meraman Goriya by 5,739 votes.

This Assembly election, Congress has given ticket to Mulu Kandoriya, the leader from Ahir community who had fought against Manek in 2012 also but had lost to the BJP MLA by 5616 votes. As Congress denied ticket to Goriya, the former Congress MLA from adjoining Khambhalia Assembly seat, to challenge Manek one more time, he quit Congress last week and joined BJP and has since been campaigning for Manek.

Manek’s unshakeable hold on the seat is at least partially attributed to support from all communities, including Muslims. That may now be hit after the Bet Dwarka demolitions, including of minority religious structures, which the BJP is tom-tomming in its campaign.

Both Kandoriya and Goriya have been unable to defeat Manek despite belonging to the largest group of voters in Dwarka seat, of the Ahirs (around 52,000). They are followed by another OBC group, Sathvaras (40,000), with Vaghers, the community Manek hails from, third at around 25,000. Muslims, mainly concentrated in Okha, Bet Dwarka and the Rupen harbour, are only partially behind, at around 24,000, followed by Dalits (15,000).

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Manek’s unshakeable hold on the seat is at least partially attributed to support from all communities, including Muslims. (Express photo by Chitral Khambhati)

This time, complicating the equations is the nomination by the Aam Aadmi Party of Lakhman Nakum, a Sathvara, from Dwarka.

Comprising the temple town Dwarka, the harbour town Okha, the Bet Dwarka island as well as Raval municipality, the Dwarka constituency is largely rural, with agriculture and fishing the main occupations, apart from jobs at a Tata Chemicals plant near Okha. Religious tourism has seen a boom in recent years with Dwarka being one of the four Char Dhams. Ferry boats remain the lifeline between Bet Dwarka and the mainland, with work on a sea-link that began in 2017 still ongoing.

Following his 2017 loss, Goriya had moved the Gujarat High Court seeking Manek’s disqualification over an alleged error in the latter’s poll affidavit. While the High Court had granted his plea in April 2019, the Supreme Court ordered a stay, and the matter rested there.

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Asked about the secret of his success, Manek told The Indian Express, “I am not elected but selected, by voters of all communities. My mantra is to help people as much I can, but to never be a hurdle to anyone.”

Addressing an election rally for Manek Wednesday, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath noted that seven politicians, including Goriya, who had fought election against Manek in the past were seated on the dias beside him.

In another marker of success, Manek, a school dropout, today runs shipping, transport and real estate businesses among others. He declared assets worth Rs 144 crore this time, including those in the name of his wife and family.

First published on: 24-11-2022 at 09:00:33 am
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