Dissent stirs up LS polls in Gujarat’s watering holes

Located on the either side of National Highway 48, Dadra & Nagar Haveli and Daman have set up interesting contests this Lok Sabha elections, amid dissension and newer challenges. PTI file photo

These twin union territories on the southern tip of Gujarat offer solace to several tipplers in the dry state.

Located on the either side of National Highway 48, Dadra & Nagar Haveli and Daman have set up interesting contests this Lok Sabha elections, amid dissension and newer challenges.

In Dadra & Nagar Haveli, six-term Lok Sabha member Mohanbhai Delkar, who lost the 2014 elections by a narrow margin of 6,000 votes to BJP’s Natubhai Patel is in the fray again to avenge his defeat.

Delkar was a Congress candidate in 2014, but walked out of the party after it decided to field a relatively unknown tribal face Prabhu Tokiya, eyeing support from the numerically strong Warli tribe to which he belongs.

While BJP’s Patel’s is known to have surfed the Modi wave in 2014, the situation is quite different five years later, as a section of the local unit was opposed to his re-nomination.

Ankita Patel, who quit the BJP after Natubhai’s re-nomination, had pinned her hopes on a Congress ticket. But when that was not forthcoming, she has entered the fray as a candidate of the Shiv Sena.

In Daman, the BJP’s decision to re-nominate two-term MP Lalubhai Patel has stirred up the party’s local unit. The entry of Independent candidate Umesh Patel and the BSP’s decision to field a candidate has also queered the pitch for the BJP.

The demolition drive carried out by the administration in Daman to build a coastal highway and widen roads in the town has upset the locals.

Dadra & Nagar Haveli, where Warli tribe comprises 40% of the voters, has also emerged as an industrial hub in the region. The industry has proved to be a magnet for a lot of migrants, who now outnumber the locals.

“We consider Mohanbhai as our main challenger,” said Kamleshbhai Desai, the deputy sarpanch of Dadra, who oversees the campaign for the BJP candidate. Desai considers Tokiya and Ankita Patel as lightweights, but is worried about the dent they can make in the BJP voter base.

Indira Krishnan, who hails from Kanyakumari in Tamil Nadu, runs a small eatery in Silvassa. She speaks fondly about Congress President Rahul Gandhi and his father late Rajiv Gandhi, but is non-committal about her political leanings.

“The local shopkeeper won’t give me pulses and rice on credit if I don’t praise Modi,” Indira said as she went about grating coconuts outside her eatery. She merely smiled when asked whether this could be a factor when she casts her vote on April 23.

“The status quo should continue,” said Gautaman, who migrated here from Thrissur in Kerala about three decades back.

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