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Nimisha Suthar: Two-time MLA has risen swiftly as Gujarat BJP’s tribal voice

With Morva Hadaf an ST reserved seat in Panchmahal district, Suthar's elevation to a minister post was a gesture by the BJP towards the crucial tribal vote.

Since she became a minister, Suthar's profile has been on the rise, with her presiding over various government events and emerging as a tribal voice of the party. (Facebook/Nimishaben Suthar)

The Minister of State for Tribal Development, Health and Family Welfare and Medical Education, the 39-year-old Nimisha Suthar holds the unique distinction of making it to the Assembly twice via a bypoll, in 2013 and 2021, from Morva Hadaf, after the BJP had lost from the seat in the 2012 and 2017 state elections.

With Morva Hadaf an ST reserved seat in Panchmahal district, Suthar’s elevation to a minister post was a gesture by the BJP towards the crucial tribal vote. Since she became a minister, Suthar’s profile has been on the rise, with her presiding over various government events and emerging as a tribal voice of the party.

Nimisha Suthar with Prime Minister Narendra Modi. (Facebook/Nimishaben Suthar)

In 2012, the Congress’s Savita Khant had defeated the BJP’s Bijalbhai Damor by over 10,000 votes from Morva Hadaf. Khant’s demise from a brain haemorrhage that she suffered on counting day necessitated a bypoll. The Congress fielded Khant’s son, Bhupendrasinh, but Suthar won by close to 18,000 votes.

It was a low-key debut in the Assembly for the diploma holder in Electric Engineering and Computer Programming Assistant, who had identified herself as a “housewife” in first affidavit for the 2013 bypoll. Consequently, in 2017, Suthar did not feature in the BJP’s list of Assembly candidates.

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While the party fielded Vikramsinh Dindor, the Congress put up a joint candidate with its Bharatiya Tribal Party ally. Bhupendrasinh Khant stood as an Independent, angry over being denied a ticket by the Congress, and won against Dindor.

In May 2019 though, Bhupendrasinh was disqualified after the Gujarat High Court dismissed his petition against charges of submitting an invalid caste certificate. Bhupendrasinh died in January 2021 following an illness.

In the bypolls held in May 2021, the BJP fielded Suthar, and this time she won by close to 45,000 votes.

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In her second term, Suthar has been very active, participating in public agitations, and also mediated during the statewide junior doctors’ strike earlier this year.

First published on: 08-11-2022 at 16:19 IST
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