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In Sami, all eyes are on Vaghela Jr
December 06, 2002 10:23 IST
Sami constituency in Patan district of Gujarat has suddenly woken up. Congressmen are referring to it as a prospective chief minister's constituency despite the party not winning the seat for the past 27 years.
Pradesh Congress Committee president Shankarsinh Vaghela has fielded his son Mahendrasinh from this constituency to keep the seat warm for him in the event of the Congress forming the government.
Mahendrasinh (38), who runs a paper mill in nearby Mehsana district, is pitted against state Minister for Prohibition Dilip Thakor, who thinks he will make it to the assembly for the third time successfully.
However, Congressman Pravin Rashtrapal, a Member of Parliament, insists that the BJP has so far benefited from a division of opposition votes, an advantage it will not have this time.
Surprisingly, the Godhra carnage and the subsequent riots are not the issue in this area, which is witnessing a drought for the third year in succession.
Shortage of water and electricity are the main problems being faced by people in this underdeveloped area and promises of bringing the Narmada water to the parched land have remained unfulfilled.
Some feel Dilip Thakor's hat-trick was an easy job given the fact that his father, Veeraji Thakor, had represented the constituency thrice with the backing of the Thakor community.
But Congress supporters say Thakor's "consistent neglect" of the area will cost the BJP dear, as Shankarsinh Vaghela's entry into the Congress has resulted in the OBCs, which include the Thakores, backing the party in a big way.
The BJP says Mahendrasinh is an outsider and an unknown face in the constituency. However, Congress workers claim that Vaghela Jr has been active in Patan district for the past five years and was the campaign manager of the party's candidate in the last Lok Sabha polls.
"We know politicians come at the time of elections and later we do not see them till the next polls," said one of the residents of Sami, pointing to the state transport bus stand, whose roof was blown away in a storm over a year ago.
Supporters of the PCC president said putting up Mahendrasinh from Sami has been a shrewd move, as it would help the Congress in mobilising greater support in nearby seats.
As chief minister, Vaghela had won the adjoining Radhanpur seat a few years back in a bye-election.
Dilip Thakor, who was made a minister when Narendra Modi became chief minister last year, had won the 1998 assembly poll by over 14,000 votes over his nearest Congress rival.
But that time the candidate of Vaghela's erstwhile Rashtriya Janata Party was also in the fray and had polled over 21,000 votes.
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