Danilimda, a reserved Scheduled Caste constituency in Ahmedabad city, that was carved out following the 2008 delimitation order, has effectively seen two assembly elections — in 2012 and 2017.
In both these elections, Congress veteran Shailesh Parmar won the seat by a comfortable margin — over 14,000 votes in 2012 and 32,000 votes in 2017.
This time Parmer is contesting for a third term, but the constituency is expected to see a disruption in vote distribution as besides BJP, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) have fielded its candidates.
AIMIM has fielded a Dalit candidate, Kaushika Parmar, who runs a beauty parlour and AAP has fielded Dinesh Kapadia, a retired engineer at the Gujarat Electricity Board (GEB).
Notably, AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi had skipped a scheduled campaign address on November 12. While the party’s Gujarat head had attributed it to a “backache”, some other members in the party had cited a “lacklustre turnout” for Owaisi’s decision to skip the public address.
Kaushika’s public rally had several seats empty and an unenthused crowd. Kaushika has also been forced to take a hiatus from campaign schedule after she suffered a heart attack on November 20. Discharged on November 23, she is yet to resume campaigning.
Meanwhile, BJP, which has fielded Naresh Vyas, had to shut its “madhyastha karyalaya”, the party’s temporary election office, earlier this week after it was verbally notified by election officials that the set-up violated the Model Code of Conduct, as it had been set up within 200 metres distance of a polling station.
Vyas, who was elected as a BJP councillor in the 2005 Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation elections, says, “We were not asked to shut it, we did it of our volition as we felt this is wrong… When it (the office) was being set up, I knew this is in violation of MCC and I had informed the BJP karyakartas of the same. Lekin karyakartaon ko bhi naaraaz nahi karna chahte the (At the same time, we did not want to displease the BJP workers), so they went ahead with setting up the office.”
Vyas is quick to add that the party’s work won’t be affected in the constituency due to a lack of an office. “I have had an operational office opposite Dr Ambedkar Hall since 2005 and that will be the office now.”
A Muslim and Dalit dominant constituency where of the estimated 2.60 lakh voters this year, approximately one lakh are Muslim voters another 90,000 are Dalits, Danilimda, in the past two Assembly elections, has seen voter turnout at around 67-68 per cent.
BJP candidates have not managed to poll more than 60,000 votes in both these elections. Congress, on the other hand, apart from winning the Assembly polls, has also proven its stronghold over the constituency in the AMC polls in 2021, managing to win all four wards of Danilimda.
One of the pressing issues in the constituency is that of Chandola lake, which has around 5,000 families residing around it, most of them Muslims.
Owaisi, in his campaign trails in Ahmedabad, has often raised the issue of underdevelopment in the area with a lack of basic amenities, in a bid to attack Congress.
Leader of Opposition at AMC, Congress Shehzadkhan Pathan too has sent legal notices to AMC officials, seeking basic amenities in the area, after repeated representations by him found no response.
BJP’s Vyas on the other hand envisions Chandola lake developed in a way similar to Kankaria Lake, and refrains from commenting on the complaints from residents living around the area on lack of basic amenities like drinking water, electricity and drainage.
Eight candidates had contested the Assembly election of 2012 and six in 2017, with all but two in both years forfeiting their deposit.
This election, there are 12 contesting candidates, which also include a former Congress councillor from Danilimda Jamnaben Vegda, contesting as an independent.
Vegda was suspended by the party in February this year after an audio clip of her surfaced in which she can be allegedly heard asking a woman to use black magic against LOP and Congress corporator Shehzadkhan Pathan and MLA Shailesh Parmar.