Times of India | 1 week ago | 24-11-2022 | 06:58 am
AHMEDABAD: In Limbayat assembly seat in Surat district, Muslim voters face a problem of plenty. Comprising 27% of total electorates, the minority community has the option to choose from as many as 36 Muslim candidates. Out of 44 total candidates in fray on this seat, the minority representation is over 80%. This election, there is an unusual dash to contest assembly polls on seats which has a significant Muslim vote share. In Bapunagar constituency in Ahmedabad, of the total 29 contestants, 10 are Muslim candidates on this seat which has 28% Muslim votes. This seat was carved out post 2012 delimitation and had elected a Congress MLA. Siimilarly, the Vejalpur seat, which includes the largest Muslim ghetto of Juhapura, has 35% vote share of the minority community. Here, nine of the 15 candidates in fray are Muslims, all contesting as independent candidates. In the upcoming state assembly polls, there are few Muslim candidates fielded by major political parties. While BJP has not given mandate to any Muslim, Congress has given ticket to six, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) to three and All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) to 13 contestants. In such a scenario, while the rush to contest polls by Muslims as independent candidates is obvious, the participation is rather overzealous on six seats where opposition Congress party has fielded Muslim candidates. Barring Wankaner and Abdasa seats in Kutch district, Muslim candidates comprise more than 50% of total contestants in fray. Take the Surat (East) seat where Congress's Aslam Cyclewala faces stiff competition from his own Muslim community as 12 of the total 14 candidates are Muslims. The seat has 22% Muslim votes. On Dariapur constituency in Ahmedabad with 46% Muslim votes, five of the total seven contestants in the battlefield are Muslims. Congress's Gyasuddin Sheikh won this seat in 2017 elections by less than 5,000 votes. Muslim independent candidates to divide votes, says Congress Muslims are majority voters in Jamalpur-Khadia, where Congress's Imran Khedawala is seeking his second term. He is facing seven rivals of which four are Muslims. Bharuch's Vagra is no different with six Muslim candidates contesting out of total nine. In this seat which BJP won by 14,000 votes, Congress has fielded Suleman Patel. Besides, there are seats like Godhra and Bhuj where the Congress has not fielded a Muslim candidates but the community's votes matter. BJP's C K Raulji had won Godhra with a wafer-thin margin of 258 votes in 2017. Of 10 candidates each on both seats, half are Muslims. Congress is crying foul citing excess Muslim independent candidates in fray on close seats as a BJP ploy to divide minority votes. Himmatsinh Patel, who trumped BJP's Jagrupsinh Rajput on Bapunagar seat by a thin margin of 3,067 votes in 2017, is seeking another term. "As victory margin on this seat was low, BJP has sponsored several minority candidates on this seat to divide minority votes," Patel alleged. Gopal Patil, a Congress party candidate in Limbayat, also said, "The BJP has sponsored Muslim independent candidates to eat into our votes. In 2012, when the competition was less, there were just a few minority candidates. This time with the entry of AAP, a worried BJP is resorting to such political gimmicks. All Muslim candidates are from the Methi Khadi area." This sentiment is echoed by Abdul Shaikh, AIMIM candidate from Limbayat. "I feel majority of the Muslim candidates are sponsored by BJP which has resorted to this tactic to cut into Congress votes following the entry of AIMIM and AAP." Senior BJP leaders refuted these charges, "Opposition candidates shift the blame on BJP but the logical question is that if we could sponsor them to fight elections, why would we not just use them to convert votes for us? The truth is that the minority community has lost trust in the Congress. With the arrival of AIMIM, many Muslims are contesting in order to get noticed by the new party." Sociologist and political observer Ghanshyam Shah opined, "The Muslims are not united as an electorate and a divide in their votes would benefit other candidates. BJP encourages independents to divide the votes. Muslims do not have a trust in BJP and they do not even trust AAP and Congress. Hence, the members of Muslim community contest elections to make their presence felt." (With inputs from Yagnesh Mehta)
Several stepwells and heritage sites are undergoing restoration as part of a project by AMC’s Ahmedabad World Heritage City Trust (AWHCT). At present, the restoration work at vavs (stepwells) in Vadaj and Bapunagar is underway and so is the fortification of the wall between Nehru Bridge and Ellisbridge. The process involves experts looking for decayed structures in need for restoration. AWHCT will also lend a hand at restoring other AMC-owned sites.Highlighting the challenges of restoration, those in the know said the Bapunagar and Vadaj both are different as far as construction is concerned. The Vadaj Vav is made of a combination of brick and stone and is deep while the Bapunagar Vav is made exclusively of traditional bricks and is shallow. Both the Vavs were filled with debris and solid waste and did not have access to water perhaps because the water table has fallen.Ashish Trambadia, Director, AWHCT said the restoration will help in retaining the structure in a certain way. Giving details of the restoration, Trambadia said the Vadaj Vav will be restored with traditional lime plaster. “Working with lime requires skill. This construction doesn’t have cement which sets fast. Lime plaster on the other hand takes at least a month to set but it is a breathable traditional material,” he said.
With barely a week to go for the first phase of polling in Gujarat, the BJP has adopted hardcore Hindutva. On Sunday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi accused the Congress and like-minded parties of keeping mum on terrorism “to not offend their vote bank”. Raising the issue of 2008 Mumbai terror attack, Batla House encounter, Ahmedabad and Surat serial blasts at a rally in Kheda, Modi said India will continue to face terrorism till appeasement politics continues.Earlier, Union Home Minister Amit Shah had accused the Congress of vote-bank politics and invoked abrogation of article 370 in Kashmir, Ram Temple in Ayodhya and implementation of Uniform Civil Code. At one of the public rallies he also talked about the 2002 communal riots and how the “troublemakers” were taught a lesson back then.The change in BJP campaign tenor over the last few days indicates that it wants to leave no stone unturned to break the past record of winning maximum 127 seats in Gujarat. Muslims account for 10% to 61% of votes on 53 seats in Gujarat, and voting on these seats will decide if BJP is able to break past records.BJP’s domination in 76 urban constituencies is a bygone conclusion. Among these, Muslim-dominated seats include Khadia-Jamalpur, Dariapur-Kalupur, Danilimda, Vejalpur and Bapunagar seats in Ahmedabad city where Muslims account for 20% to 61% of the votes. A similar scenario exists in Wankaner, Somnath, Dwarka and Khambhalia in Saurashtra, Abdasa, Mandvi and Bhuj in Kutch, Vadgam and Siddhpur in North Gujarat, Dholka in Ahmedabad, Godhra in Panchamahal, Bharuch, Vagra and Jambusar in Bharuch district, Matar, Mehmdabad, Mahudha in Kheda, Limbayat and Surat (E) in Surat. The big question is: How will Muslims vote this time? Will they gravitate towards AAP, AIMIM or Congress? Not surprisingly, Congress alleges that efforts are being made by the BJP to divide the Muslim vote.Take the example of Surat East where 12 of the 14 candidates are Muslims. In Limbayat, there are 36 Muslim candidates out of total 44.In Ahmedabad’s Bapunagar, out of 29 candidates 9 are Muslims. In Jamalpur-Khadia four out of eight and in Dariapur four out of 7 candidates are Muslims.In 2017, in these 53 Muslim-dominated seats BJP was victorious on 28 and Congress 25. The BJP game-plan is to bank on division of Muslim votes and retain Hindu votes.Muslim votes usually go to candidates with potential to win and who can be helpful to them in future. Owaisi’s hardcore minority politics has so far failed in West Bengal and UP. Kejriwal lost his currency and secular credentials among minority voters by raising the demand of putting Hindu god Ganesh and goddess Laxmi pictures on currency notes, silence on Uniform Civil Code, flogging of Muslim youths during Navratri in Gujarat, removal of encroachment by minorities in Bet Dwarka and remission to Bilkis Bano rapists.Voting percentage plays a crucial role in determining which party wins. When a particular community or group decides to come out en masse to vote for a particular political party, it usually boomerangs. For example, in recent past when a Muslim cleric exhorted voters to vote in favour of Congress and defeat BJP’s former revenue minister Kaushik Patel, the news spread like wildfire and a Hindu backlash followed which resulted in Patel’s victory by a thin margin. The bottomline: elections are not decided on a single factor but several factors.
Narendra Modi would not have become the Prime Minister had the Congress not kept democracy alive, said Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge in his first political rally ahead of the Gujarat Assembly elections Sunday.“If the Congress would not have done anything in 70 years, then in this democracy, you would not have become the Prime Minister. This is given by the Congress. We might have lost but kept alive the (Indian) Constitution and democracy. Due to works done by Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru and Dr BR Ambedkar, democracy is alive in the country today,” Kharge said in Ahmedabad’s Bapunagar area.He questioned the repeated visits of Modi to the poll-bound state. “The PM is leaving aside all his national and international work and spending time in Gujarat. This shows there is something wrong here. Why are all their ministers visiting Gujarat?” he said.Gujarat AICC incharge Raghu Sharma and Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, too, questioned the repeated visits of PM Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah. If they had done good work and development in Gujarat, why are they worried and spending more days in the state along with the central ministers, the Congress leaders asked.Kharge also took a jibe at the double-engine government slogan of the BJP. “Your double-engine has failed. One engine is down and the other is not working. That is why you are changing three CMs in five years.”He appealed to the voters to not go by the words and fake promises of a party that has divided every community. “You are selling PSUs set up by Congress in order to make a few of your friends richer and the poor poorer. They say we have humiliated Sardar (Vallabhbhai) Patel and Ambedkar, were they yours? Who banned the RSS? It was Sardar Patel, Nehru ji and Dr Ambedkar who did that,” he added.Hinting at anti-incumbency, Sharma said, “There is an undercurrent in Gujarat as people have decided to change the the deaf and dumb government that has strangulated the common man. People from all communities are fed up with the BJP.”Giving the example of Rajasthan, Sharma said, “In Rajasthan, too, there are 33 districts, of which 31 have government hospitals. We have implemented the employment guarantee scheme. Also, the old pension scheme is there in Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh”. Targeting the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), he said: “(Arvind) Kejriwal of AAP, which is a B team of the BJP, is lying. They have come only to divide the votes. People are fed up in Punjab within eight months.”Seeking votes for Bapunagar Congress candidate Himmatsinh Patel, Gehlot said: “I appeal to you not to trust the AAP. What agreement has been made between the BJP and AAP, it is beyond my understanding”.The Rajasthan Chief Minister also claimed that the BJP’s Gaurav Yatra—a state-wide campaign held to promote the government’s achievements—was a failure. “People are not attending their meetings and have decided to change the government. If you change the government in Gujarat, it will be a favour for the entire country. The PM and Home Minister will introspect why they were defeated and…take remedial steps and thus, bring in some changes in the country.”
Imtiaz Khan Pathan, 45, will be contesting on a JD(U) ticket from Bapunagar in Ahmedabad.He is a key witness of the Gulberg society massacre during the 2002 Gujarat riots.He contested from Kheda on Apna Desh Party ticket in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.Pathan joined the AIMIM but resigned saying the party refused to field him.Movable assets: (including spouse’s) Rs 96,000 (including two-wheeler worth Rs 56,000)Immovable assets: NoneLiabilities: NoneProfession: Daily wagelabourerCriminal cases: None
The number of candidates contesting the Gujarat Assembly elections in the second phase is higher than that of first phase, data released by the election commission shows. While 788 candidates will contest from 89 seats that go to poll in the first phase of the elections to be held on December 1, 1,112 candidates are contesting from the 93 seats that go to polls on December 5, as per the nominations that were scrutinised till Friday. The last day for withdrawal of nominations for the second phase is November 21.A total of 339 are independent candidates are in the fray for the first phase of Assembly polls, another 507 independent candidates are due to contest in the 93 seats that go to polls in the second phase.The highest number of independents candidates — 34 — are in Limbayat seat in Surat district from where 44 candidates are contesting elections. The second highest number of independents are in Morbi the sitting BJP MLA was dropped after the Morbi bridge collapse in which 135 people were killed. The reserved tribal seat of Mahuva in South Gujarat has just three candidates.Among the second-phase seats, Viramgam will see 18 independents contesting among the total 29 candidates from this seat, including Patidar leader Hardik Patel, who is contesting on a BJP ticket.The seat has the highest number of independent contestants among the 93 seats, followed by Bapunagar seat in Ahmedabad, where 17 independents are contesting among the total 35 contestants. The key contests in the first phase will see Isudan Gadhvi, the chief minister candidate of AAP fighting from Khambhalia seat in Devbhumi Dwarka district. Sitting BJP ministers including Purnesh Modi, Harsh Sanghavi, Naresh Patel and Kanu Desai, Raghavji Patel, Jitu Vaghani will be also contesting to retain their seats.Among the Congress candidates, former Leader of Opposition in Gujarat Assembly Paresh Dhanani and senior party leader Punja Vansh will be contesting to retain their seats. Indranil Rajyaguru, who returned to Congress will be fighting from Rajkot East seat. Rajyaguru had lost the 2017 polls to former chief minister Vijay Rupani.Other interesting contests in Phase-1 will see Rivaba Jadeja, wife of cricketer Ravindra Jadeja, contesting from Jamnagar North, sitting MLA Kandhal Jadeja who recently quit NCP will be fighting from Kutiyana seat as a SP candidate, while sitting BJP MLA Jawahar Chavda will be fighting from Manavadar.While both Congress and BJP will be contesting in all the 89 seats in Saurashtra and South Gujarat that goes to polls on December 1, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) will contest on 88 seats. Among the national parties contesting in the first phase, Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) will contest from 57 seats, Samajwadi Party (SP) on 12 seats and Asaduddin Owaisi’s AIMIM on six seats, along with Gujarat-based Bharatiya Tribal Party (BTP) contesting on 14 seats. For the second-phase, BSP has fielded candidates from 48 seats, AIMIM has fielded eight candidates, SP has fielded six candidates and BTP has fielded 12 candidates.The Bapunagar seat in Ahmedabad is due to be a highly contested seat with independents, BSP, SP, JD(U), AIMIM, other smaller and local parties competing for votes, apart from BJP, Congress and AAP.In total, of the 182 seats, SP is contesting on 18 seats, AIMIM on 14, BSP on 105 seats and BTP on 24 seats.