LS polls: Caste still crucial factor for BJP-Cong in Gujarat
Despite BJP's claims of a 'Modi wave' and development as its poll agenda and Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi's claims to empower underprivileged, when it came to facing realities of electoral battle, both the parties banked upon the caste equations while fielding their candidates from Gujarat for the Lok Sabha polls.
Even a cursory look at the list of candidates of both the parties makes it clear that caste still plays a crucial role in the elections.
The BJP's normally considered to be a party of upper castes but its candidates list for general elections in Gujarat betrayed the popular perception as the ruling party in the state has given prominence to OBCs, Tribals and Patels while distributing tickets.
The BJP has fielded six OBCs including its Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi. Others are, Darshana Jardosh (Surat), Liladhar Vaghela (Patan), Haribhai Chaudhary (Banaskantha), Prabhatsinh Chauhan (Panchmahal) and Poonam Madam (Jamnagar).
The party has also fielded five candidates from the Scheduled Tribes (STs) -- Jaswant Singh Bhabor (Dahod), Ramsingh Rathwa (Chhota Udepur), Mansukh Vasava (Bharuch), Prabhu Vasava (Bardoli) and KC Patel (Valsad).
Six people from politically powerful Patel community have been fielded by the BJP. These include Mohan Kundariya (Rajkot), Jaishri Patel (Mehsana), Vithhal Radadia (Porbandar), Naran Kachhadiya (Amreli), CR Patil (Navsari), and Dilip Patel (Anand).
Three Kolis -- Rajesh Chudasama (Junagadh), Devji Fatepura (Surendranagar) and Bhartiben Siyal (Bhavnagar)-- have got tickets.
The party has also fielded two candidates from the Scheduled Castes -- Vinod Chavda (Kutch) and Kirit Solanki (Ahmedabad West).
Two Kshatriyas-- Deepsingh Rathore (Sabarkantha) and Devusinh Chauhan (Kheda) were also in the fray.
While BJP veteran LK Advani, who is a Sindhi, has been contesting from Gandhinagar, Bollywood actor Paresh Rawal, a Brahmin, is contesting from Ahmedabad East.
Voting for 26 Lok Sabha seats in the state will be held on April 30.
The Congress, which has a traditional base among the minorities and Dalits and Tribals, has also fielded candidates keeping in mind the caste factor.
Though 70 per cent of the Congress candidates belong to its traditional support base, it has given due consideration to politically powerfull castes like Patels while deciding its candidates in Gujarat.
The Congress has fielded eight OBCs -- Madhusudan Mistry (Vadodara), Joitabhai Patel (Banaskantha), Bhavsinh Rathore (Patan), Himmat Singh Patel (Ahemedabad East), Kandhal Jadeja (NCP) (Porbandar), Vikram Madam (Jamnagar), Bharat Singh Solanki (Anand) and Ramsinh Parmar (Panchmahal).
Four STs -- Prabha Taviad (Dahod), Naran Rathwa (Chhota Udepur), Tushar Chaudhary (Bardoli), and Kishan Patel (Valsad).
Five Patels have also been given tickets the Congress. Jivabhai Patel (Mehsana), Dinsha Patel (Kheda), Kirit Patel (Gandhinagar), Veerji Thumar (Amreli), and Jayesh Patel (Bharuch).
The Congress has also given prominence to Kolis. It has given ticket to Somabhai Patel (Surendranagar), Kunwarji Bawalia (Rajkot), Praveen Rathore (Bhavnagar) and Punjabhai Vansh (Junagadh) from the community.
Two candidates from SC community -- Dinesh Parmar (Kutch) and Ishwar Makwana (Ahmedabad West) have been fielded in the polls.
One Kshtriya Shankarsinh Vaghela will contest from Sabarkantha.
The Congress has also fielded Maksood Mirza (Navsari) and Naisar Desai, a Brahmin from Surat.
(Posted on 15-04-2014)