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PROJECTION: Will Mehsana give Modi a boost?

Last updated on: December 17, 2012 17:14 IST

Narendra Modi had worked superbly in 2007 in north Gujarat. It's important for Modi that Mehsana and other parts of north Gujarat give a thumping victory to the Bharatiya Janata Party to counterbalance any possible losses in Saurashtra.

Mehsana:

BJP: Nitin Patel

Congress: Natubhai Patel

Mehsana is the place where being or not being Patel works in every aspect of life. In the assembly election it is a Patel v Patel battle.

A vast and dry landscape, poor farming but rich dairy industry makes Mehsana a unique place in Gujarat. Mehsana is known as a stronghold of the co-operative movement and also for its very rigid casteism. The 46,000 Patels and 34,000 Thakors are key factors in the election.

Nitin Patel, the urban development minister and crony of Narendra Modi, was elected from Kalol in last election. He has been forced to switch over here due to delimitation and it makes it a tough task for him.

As per Patel's sub caste, he is a '42 Gaam Kadva Patel' and there are only seven villages of his sub-caste in this constituency. Patel is known for trying hard to encash on his development works done at Kalol.

Congress candidate Natubhai Patel, a 78-year-old co-operative giant, is widely known here as Natu Pitambar. He has a stronghold over many co-operative movement like the district bank to GUJCOMASOL (with provides agriculture inputs like fertilisers, seeds, pesticides etc to farmers) and the market yard to state co-operative banks' union. Natubhai has the image of a kingmaker with widespread influence, grass-route contact and is easily accessibility. After supporting candidates for many elections, he is in the fray for the first time.

Rating: It seems to be a tough fight. The advantage goes to Congress' Natubhai and Nitin Patel is no threat but Natibhai has to battle Modi's charisma.

Unza:

BJP: Naran Patel

Congress: Dr Ashaben Patel

The sweetish smell of variyali (fennel seeds) overlapping the spicy fragrance of jeeru (cumin) is the hallmark of Unza! Unza is the largest producer of fennel seeds, cumin and isabgol in the world and the majority of the business or farming here is in the hands of the Kadva Patidar, a Patel sub-caste.

Like Mehsana, Patels (78,000) and Thakors (43,000) are the major communities in the election.

But unlike Mehsana, the BJP candidate Naran Patel has same grip over both communities. Knowing as Naran lallu among elders and Naran kaka among youngsters, Naran Patel is representing the constituency since 1995 and it is his 5th election. The world's largest market yard (APMC), district bank and farmers' co-op society are Patel's strong allies. Apart from a small fuss on his candidature within the party and the presumption of anti-incumbency factor, Kaka is all set to control the election.

Every five years, it's a headache for the Congress to find a candidate for this constituency. There is no Congress leader who has fought two consecutive elections. Every time a new name arrives and this time it is Dr Ashaben Patel. She is a local professor having strong reputation for her social works. She has worked hard at the party level but will be no match for Naran Patel.

Rating: BJP's Naran Patel will have it easy.

Bechraji:

BJP: Rajnikant Patel

Congress: Rajendrasinh Darbar

Bechraji is known for its ancient temple of Bahuchara Mata and the city is known worldwide for its eunuch fair.

Strong caste factors and a race of power between the Patels and Thakors/Rajputs always makes for cut-throat competition. The Patels (61,000) are a majority followed by the Thakors/Rajputs (57,000). But while it is a fight between Patel and Patel, it is a battle of Patel sub-castes too.

Being a '84 Gaam Patel', sitting MLA and BJP candidate Rajnikant Patel would have been all set to win. But this time he has to fight within his caste with Kirit Patel of GPP, who belongs to 78 Gaam Patel.

Though it is said that all GPP candidates of north Gujarat has been withdrawn in favour of the BJP, Kirit Patel has refused to step down. His presence in the fray definitely divides the Patel votes.

Rajendrasinh Darbar of the Congress has a blank slate. He has a good and clean reputation during his term in the taluka panchayat. He will try for the undivided Thakor and Rajput votes.

Rating: Advantage Congress but the BJP is in the race.

Visnagar:

BJP: Rushikesh Patel

NCP: Bholabhai Patel

Apart from being a small town, Visnagar has wide influence of Ahmedabad. A majority of the builders, dairy owners, grocery and spice merchants of north-east Ahmedabad are originally from Visnagar area. Beautiful bungalows, posh cars and latest fashion dots the new Visnagar but the area faces the contradictory scenario of poverty, dry lands and insufficient water.

Rushikesh Patel, a young engineer turned builder and sitting MLA, is looking for a second term. The ghost of the 2002 communal riots hangs over this constituency. The judiciary has sentenced the accused of the Dipda Darwaja riot case and Rushikesh Patel's passive response to the families of the accused has not gone down well with some.

But following the mutual arrangement between the Congress and the NCP, Visnagar has been offered to NCP candidate Bholabhai Patel.

Bholabhai Patel, a farmer, builder and banker by profession, is being blamed for the bankruptcy of the Visnagar Nagrik Sahkari Bank. It had affected a majority Patels and Thakors of the area. (There are 64,000 Patels following by 45,000 Thakors). Some independent contestants can also affect the scene.

Rating: If development issues can hide decades of underdevelopment, it will be easy going for the BJP.

Kheralu:

BJP: Bharatsinh Dabhi

Congress: Babuji Thakor

Very limited geographic as well as cultural boundaries, dry lands and insufficient water make Kheralu always a city seeking new hope.

This seat with Thakors (50,000), SCs (18,000) and Muslims (17,000) was the first laboratory of Madhavasinh Solanki initiated KHAM theory. But since a decade, Kheralu has proved to be a strong BJP supporter.

Bharatsinh Dabhi is sitting MLA and the president of the Thakor panchayat and has a strong hold over his community.

While Congress contestant Babuji is a village sarpanch and is struggling to make his image. But since the BJP candidate facing a strong anti-incumbency factor, Babuji has bright opportunity to be a dark horse.

Rating: Overall scenario favours the BJP candidate.

Kadi:

BJP: Hitu Kanodia

Congress : Ramesh Chavda

Kadi is the gateway to north Gujarat. Greenery of the farms and trading business, large cotton yards and weaving mills make Kadi a rich belt. But like the entire north Gujarat Kadi too creates a contradictory scenario of wealth and poverty, development and unplanned distribution of government schemes.

Kadi was the constituency of Nitin Patel, a minister and crony of Narendra Modi but in this election it has been named a Schedule Caste reserved seat and forced Patel to leave it for Hitu Kanodiya. Hitu is a newcomer in political fray but not the Kanodiyas. Hitu Kanodiya, himself a Gujarati actor, is the son of veteran actor Naresh Kanodiya. His uncle Mahesh Kanodiya is a well-known Gujarati musician and a two-time BJP MP.

Congress candidate Ramesh Chavda is a seasoned political figure but Modi's magic, Nitin Patel's firm hold and Hitu's charm make difficult fight for Chavda.

Rating: Definitely advantage BJP

 

Vijapur:

BJP: Kantibhai Patel

Congress: P I Patel

Vijapur constituency is known for its no repeat theory and Narendra Modi has repeated the candidate for the third time.

Vijapur's social and communal fabric is unique -- a majority of Patels, Thakors followed by Muslims. The Brahmins are only 4 percent but have a wide influence over other castes. Delimitation has added 2 percent Patels, 0.8 percent Muslims and some Brahmins too.

The BJP and the Congress have selected Patel candidates. The Congress relies on Muslim voters while the BJP confides in the Thakors and Brahmins.

Kantibhai Patel is facing tough time due to his repetitive candidature. P I Patel is the chairman of the APMC, Vijapur and formerly a key figure in the local BJP. He has wide personal influence over the BJP's traditional vote-bank.

Rating: Too close to call.

Other rediff projections: Saurashtra | Vadodara | Banaskantha | Patan | Sabarkantha | Gandhinagar

Coverage | Rediff forcast

Shandilya Trivedi in Ahmedabad