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|August 25, 1999||
Kargil victory gives BJP the edge over Vaghela
The battles of Kargil have hobbled the prospects of former Gujarat chief minister and political heavyweight Shankarsinh Vaghela in the Lok Sabha election at Kapadwanj.
The Bharatiya Janata Party is cashing in on the sentiment favouring it after the death of son-of-the-soil Dinesh Vaghela in Operation Vijay.
Shankarsinh Vaghela, who projected himself as a martyr in the BJP when he rebelled against it and severed ties with his party of 30 years in 1996, finds himself in a spot following the death of the local hero who shares his last name.
Vaghela has already paid a visit to the martyr's house in Nirmali village. Dinesh's father Mohan Vaghela says leaders of all political colours visited his house, but he himself had no preferences.
But the martyr's family was present at the BJP's inaugural function. It was also present at yesterday's public meeting addressed by Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
Vaghela, popularly known as Bapu in state political circles, had won the Kapadwanj seat in 1977 as a Janata Party candidate.
His rival, BJP candidate Jaisinh Chauhan, won from here in 1996 and in 1998. The possibility of a direct fight between the two this time has come to attract a lot of attention towards this otherwise laid-back constituency.
Sixty-five per cent of the electorate of Kapadwanj comprises Kshatriyas while 15 per cent is Muslim. The Muslims are an important factor in the calculations of Vaghela, who is himself a Gharasiya Rajput.
The statistics in the seven assembly segments under this constituency show that the BJP, which won five assembly seats last year, possibly has the upper hand. The Congress and Vaghela's Rashtriya Janata Party, which has since merged with the Congress, won one each.
But Vaghela exudes confidence that with the combined vote of the Congress and the erstwhile RJP, he can sail through smoothly.
Last year's Lok Sabha elections statistics show the BJP candidate polled 2,74,322 votes while the Congress nominee and the RJP candidate got 2,23,157 and 1,81,731 votes, respectively. The merger of the Congress and the RJP and the presence of a leader like Vaghela will certainly aid the party, local Congress leaders say.
The BJP is doing everything to ensure Chauhan's victory. The state government has already sanctioned Rs 500,000 to Dinesh Vaghela's family. Promises of 16 acres of land and a memorial have also been made.
Chauhan also claims to have got the Kapadwanj-Modasa railway line sanctioned, though Vaghela says it is he who got the job done.
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