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Mandaviya expected to win maiden poll in Porbandar despite issues

April 17, 2024 16:02 IST

This is Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya's maiden Lok Sabha election, but political experts and voters feel he can easily win Porbandar seat in his home state Gujarat, despite the electorate facing some key issues like unemployment.

IMAGE: Union Health Minister and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) candidate from Porbandar constituency Mansukh Mandaviya along with his wife Neeta Mandaviya ​offer prayers at the Bhojeshwar Temple ahead of filing his nomination for the Lok Sabha polls, in Porbandar on April 15, 2024. Photograph: ANI Photo

Their logic is simple. They believe that being a minister in the Narendra Modi government, Bharatiya Janata Party leader Mandaviya can resolve their woes.

Mandaviya is pitted against Congress' Lalit Vasoya, a former MLA, who belongs to the Patidar community like the Union minister.


Before becoming the Rajya Sabha member, Mandaviya won Palitana assembly seat of Bhavnagar in 2002.

Vasoya won from Rajkot's Dhoraji seat in 2017 but lost to BJP candidate in 2022. When he was still an MLA, he was fielded by the party from Porbandar Lok Sabha seat in 2019, but lost to BJP's Ramesh Dhaduk.

Political analyst Jayesh Joshi said, "Mandaviya's biggest strength is that he is a minister in the Modi government. People would think he can raise their issues more effectively through his position. People hope their issues will be resolved if Mandaviya is elected."

Unemployment among youth due to lack of industrial growth, fishing cost rise, lack of dredging at fishing harbour, lack of educational institutes or universities and poor health infrastructure are some of the burning issues in Porbandar, he said.

Porbandar Lok Sabha constituency comprises Gondal, Jetpur, Dhoraji, Porbandar, Kutiyana, Manavadar and Keshod assembly segments, spread across Porbandar, Rajkot and Junagadh districts of Saurashtra region.

In the 2022 assembly polls, Kutiyana seat went to Kandhal Jadeja who contested as a Samajwadi Party candidate, while Manavadar seat went to Congress' Arvind Ladani. In the same election, Congress' Arjun Modhwadia made a comeback from Porbandar assembly seat by defeating Babu Bokhiria.

Ladani and Modhwadia joined the BJP a couple of months ago. Now, they are contesting as BJP candidates in the by-election to Manavadar and Porbandar assembly seats which fell vacant after their resignation as Congress MLAs.

Parth Joshi, another political analyst from Porbandar, said people do not have any other option because the Congress is virtually finished after its key leader in this region, Modhwadia, joined the BJP.

"Unemployment is the biggest issue because there is no industrial activity here. Voters are seeing a ray of hope in Mandaviya and there is no other option because Congress is nowhere after Modhwadia's exit. Except Dhoraji and Jetpur segments, Vasoya does not have support base in other parts of Porbandar Lok Sabha seat," Joshi said.

While this seat was with the BJP from 1991 till 2009, it was late Vitthal Radadiya, Congress' Patidar leader, who stopped BJP's victory chariot by winning it in 2009.

He joined the BJP in 2013 and won the bypoll. He once again became the MP from Porbandar in 2014. Following his death in July 2019, BJP's Ramesh Dhaduk won the seat.

Patidars dominate in this seat with nearly 4 lakh voters, followed by 1.7 lakh Koli (OBC), 1.5 lakh Mer (OBC), 1.35 lakh Dalits, 1.23 lakh Muslims, 1 lakh Ahir and 50,000 Kharva community voters, who are mostly into fishing activity.

People from Porbandar Lok Saba seat said they were facing unemployment, healthcare challenges and some other issues.

Vegetable vendor Bharat Manvar complained about unemployment but said he will vote for the BJP.

"Both my cousins and some of my old friends have shifted to Jamnagar and Rajkot after failing to find any job or proper work here. They are working in factories there and earning much better than me. Though I have passed Class 10, I don't have any work as there are no factories here. I hope the BJP will fix this problem so that people like me don't have to move to other cities," Manvar said.

Some people are displeased with the healthcare facilities offered at government-run hospitals.

"I am a BJP supporter. But, it is also a fact that the Porbandar civil hospital needs improvement. Many times, patients are referred to Rajkot or Jamnagar. However, the situation has improved in recent years and I am sure Mandaviya will look into this issue," a voter said.

Joshi said Porbandar airport has not been in use since some time as flights from Mumbai and other cities have stopped landing.

Being a coastal town, fishing and allied industry, like ice factories, transport and warehousing, are among the key business activities and the Kharva community is traditionally involved in them.

However, community leaders claim fish production is dwindling while the fuel cost is going up, making the business unviable.

Porbandar Machhimar Boat Association president Mukesh Panjari said the Kharva community handed over a list of demands to Mandaviya when he came to meet them recently during campaigning.

"Untreated water being released into the sea by some industries is a major reason why the fish presence is dwindling near the coast and we have to go deep into the sea for a good catch. But that adds to the cost because diesel is still costly for us. We demand that industries be stopped from releasing such water into the sea," he said.

While the Gujarat government does not take any VAT on diesel sold to fishermen for their boats, the Centre does not offer any rebate to fishermen, Panjari said, adding that Kharva community is with the BJP and its members hope Mandaviya will bring a solution.

Prashant Thakor
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