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Home > Election > Report

'No one in Patan constituency knows Modi'

Syed Firdaus Ashraf in Patan | December 09, 2002 18:59 IST

'Outsider' is the word haunting the caretaker Education Minister of Gujarat, Anandiben Patel, ever since she shifted to Patan constituency from Mandal in Ahmedabad.

The Bharatiya Janata Party is trying its best to make Hindutva a big issue in Patan, but there are not many takers because the post-Godhra riots did not affect this constituency much. Only one person died and the situation was immediately brought under control.

On entering Patan City, there is a huge poster of Narendra Modi and Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf, which says:.'Nationalism is Country's pride.'

"Hindutva is not an issue here because Patan was hardly disturbed post-Godhra. The people are more upset by the lies that BJP leaders have been telling the people of Patan for the last 12 years," says Ashish Patel, a seller of saris.

And to make matters worse, Modi recently claimed in a public meeting that he had spent his youth in the gullies of Patan and has fond memories of the city.

"No one in Patan knows him. And we were all surprised when Modi said in a public rally that he was from Patan. He is a complete liar," says B M Parmar (60).

However, Biren Trivedi, a native of Patan and state secretary of the Bharatiya Jan Yuva Morcha, says, "Modiji was based in Patan 25 years ago. But the face of Patan has changed drastically in the last 25 years and it is very difficult to find old-timers who have spent time with him in our city."

The people here complain that there is fluoride in drinking water, but the BJP has not done anything to solve the problem.

Says Amitbhai Patel, "Almost every person in his 50s in Patan is suffering from arthritis because of the water problem and the BJP government has done nothing."

There are nearly 1,65,000 voters in Patan constituency. The city accounts of 77,000 voters and the rest are from Patan taluka and Chansma taluka. Around 47 per cent of the voters are Patels and hence the BJP and Congress have fielded candidates from that community.

There are two factors working in favour of Congress candidate Kantilal Nanalal Patel. The first is that he is a local. Secondly, Gujarat Congress president Shankarsinh Vaghela spent his youth in Patan City and has personal rapport with many of the old-timers.

Kantilal has fought elections from here, but never won. In 1990 and 1995 he contested as an independent and lost by a margin of 3,000 and 14,000 votes respectively. He fought on a Rashtriya Janata Party ticket in 1998 and lost by a margin of 12,000 votes.

Advocate Mahendra Patel, Congress president, Patan, says: "Other parties always took our votes and therefore Kantilalbhai lost for the past 12 years. But this time, he is fighting one-to-one with the BJP and we are sure that he will win.

"Moreover, Kantilalbhai has been involved in various social activities in Patan. These are the things working in our favour," he adds.

The BJP feels that the 'outsider' factor won't hurt the prospects of Anandiben. Also, the BJP has emerged victorious in the last three assembly elections here.

Says Trivedi: "Everybody in Patan knows that Vaghela worked for the Jan Sangh and was always with the BJP. But he was ambitious and changed his stance. So the locals consider him an outsider.

"Another point that our party is highlighting is that if Anandiben wins, she would become a minister, whereas there is very little chance of the Congress candidate becoming minister. So the interest of people would be served more if a minister gets elected from their constituency," adds Trivedi.


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