Ahmedabad: Ground reports suggest that BJP's tally in its fort - Saurashtra is likely to slide. Some suggest the tally will be as low as 20, others put it under 35. It surely seems set to plummet from 2007's tally of 37.
The decisive factor is going to be the Leuva Patels pitted against BJP and lack of development in the region. Drought, water shortage and farmer suicides are only adding to Modi's woes here.
In a high-profile battle in Visavadar, BJP's Kanu Bhalala is pitted against his former guru and 84-year-old Patel stalwart Keshubhai Patel. Some estimate that the BJP candidate will loose with a margin of 15,000 votes in this Leuva Patel-dominated seat. Patel’s proximity to his community and cricketer-turned-politician Navjyot Singh Sidhu’s jibes here are playing against the incumbent.
Mahendra Mashru, a senior MLA, is battling hard against Bhikha Joshi of Congress and Lalji Savaliya of GPP. Mashru is hopeful in this Lohana dominated area but this time the situation is different. Polarisation of Leuva Patel votes due to GPP entering the fray will dent his vote bank and this in turn, will help the Congress. However, this is a closely-fought contest.
In Somnath, the battle is within the BJP itself. Incumbent Rajshi Jotva is fighting with two of his former colleagues, Jagmal and Ravi Gohel. Both parted ways after the announcement of the tickets, and are contesting as Independents. This split of votes is benefiting the Congress.
It looks like the Congress is also winning in Keshod, Una and Mangrol. The Congress is also likely to retain Manavadar.
Delimitation going against BJP
Jamnagar district will see two high-profile contests. State BJP chief RC Faldu is taking on Raghavji Patel, while minister in the state cabinet Vasuben Trivedi is pitted against Jitendra Lall. Both these seats are a concern for BJP; local sources believe that BJP is loosing them. The total tally of BJP may come down to three from the five that it held in 2007.
Jamnagar Rural is a new seat that was formed after delimitation of Jodiya and other parts of Jamnagar city, largely dominated by Patels. And Trivedi is fighting it out on two fronts – highly popular Lall and her own party’s dissidents. Khambhaliya has Congress dissident Poonam Madam fighting on a BJP ticket, while the high-profile Pabubha Manek is contesting from Dwarka. It is unlikely that Manek will loose.
However, Madam may face stiff resistance from her party’s own workers as well as from her relative and Congress MP Vikram Madam.
Modhwadia needs luck to win
The decision to field Babu Bokhiriya against GPCC chief Arjun Modhwadia was considered a BJP masterstroke but politics is full of surprises. Bokhiria appears to have an advantage over Modhwadia as the GPCC president is facing anti-incumbency here.
However, chief minister Narendra Modi's statement on the death of Junagadh district Congress unit president, Lilabhai Khunti, appears to have hurt many people of the Maher community.
"Modi shouldn't have played politics over a death. He said in his speech that Lilabhai died of heart attack caused by stress imposed on him by the Congress party. This is not true. Modi shouldn't have made such a comment," said Dhanabhai Kuchhadiya of Kuchadi village.
But the business community in Porbandar seems inclined towards Modhwadia because of his clean image. It would not come as a surprise if Modhwadia registers a victory over Bokhiria, albeit by a very thin margin.
Close contest on the cards
Shaktisinh Gohil is the Congress candidate from Bhavnagar (rural) while Koli strongman Purshottam Solanki is the BJP nominee. The seat is new for both as their original constituencies were dissolved after delimitation.
The bad news for Gohil here is that he does not have much support in villages like Budhel and Tanasa. But Ghogha taluka, which was part Solanki's old constituency, is considered good for the Congress as Solanki never got a lead here. Moreover, villages which used to give Solanki a big lead are now part of Talaja constituency.
Easy win for Keshubhai
GPP's founder-president Keshubhai Patel is contesting the elections from here. After the Congress candidate was unable to file nomination because his mandate was snatched by a kid, the outcome of the election here became a foregone conclusion. Supporters of all the parties here are unanimous in saying that Keshubapa will win by big margin.
Interestingly, the reason for this is not people’s love for Keshubhai but dissatisfaction with the BJP MLA and minister of state for water resources Kanu Bhalala, who allegedly neglected his constituency.