It is the caste equations - - more than political allegiance -- that are expected to play a major role in determining the outcome of Assembly polls in the Dwarka constituency straddling the Arabian sea.
Manek Pabubha Virambha, the BJP candidate from Dwarka, was with the Congress just two a months ago. He was elected as an MLA on Congress ticket in the last Assembly elections in 2002.
Of the nearly 1.67 lakh voters in Dwarka, the caste factor makes the poll battle interesting. The Kshatriya and upper caste votes may get divided between BJP and Congress as both the candidates come from the same caste.
Pabubha, who wields tremendous money power by being in shipping business and bauxite mining contracts, belongs to the powerful Kshatriya caste as does his Congress opponent Sumaniya Patramalbha Dhandhama.
The BJP is sure about Pabubha's victory, but his nomination has also set off dissatisfaction among local party cadres.
"We don't understand why a more loyal BJP leader could not get the ticket," asks a local party leader.
The Congress, stung by the desertion of Pabubha, is trying to cash in on by painting him a turncoat. Pabubha had won the last poll in 2002 by securing 44,009 votes (48 pc of the total votes cast) while his rival Ashok Haridas Lal's share of votes was 38,359.
Pabubha says he joined BJP because of his admiration for Chief Minister Narendra Modi [Images]. Sumaniya Patramalbha trashes Pabubha's claims about development of the constituency. "He has not done anything in the last five years except promoting his own business interests in the region."
Pabubha, however, remains unfazed. "People of Dwarka want me and Modi bhai and are not bothered about the criticisms. As for water, the town will soon see more supply through the Narmada," he says.
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