An aside about the just concluded poll campaign in Gujarat: With implementation of the new Delimitation Commission report pending, Gujarat has arguably taken the slot as the last state to have completed an election process on the basis of the demographic and geographical demarcation of political constituencies conducted three decades ago.
On this count, the gainers include ex-Maharajas of old principalities: Pure blooded Rajputs contesting elections in prominently tribal constituencies.
Seeking to represent the overwhelmingly tribal-dominated Santrampur constituency in central Gujarat’s Panchmahals district is Paranjayditya Sinh Solanki. Fawning upon him are liveried servants; he owns a fleet of cars, speaks fluent English and lives in a huge palace.
This Congress candidate’s calling card: One of his forefathers defeated an army of Bhil tribals who lived in the area about 750 years ago (1255 AD) and the family continued to rule until the princely states were abolished.
Solanki’s maiden venture into the political arena has also been inspired by this fact: He is married to the daughter of former Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Digvijay Singh.
Do Bhils, Khants and other tribals — constituting 72 per cent of the population in Santrampur according to the 2001 Census — regard him as one of their own? Solanki’s interpretation: “We continue to be regarded as rulers and I also have the advantage of being the only non-corrupt candidate in the fray”.
What was Solanki doing before he decided to take the plunge into politics? “Well, nothing substantial — I was toying with the idea of starting heritage hotels.”
The NCP candidate from a nearby constituency called Devgarh Baria is one Tushar Singh who counts actor Jimmy Shergill among his friends. Educated at Lawrence School, Sanawar, Ahmedabad and Cardiff University in Wales, Tushar has family links with the Jaipur royals and was employed in hotels in Oman and Switzerland.
Why is such a man dabbling in messy tribal issues such as faulty land records and inaccuracies about the BPL list?
“I wanted to live in Baria and serve and represent the tribals of my constituency. And what better way to serve than be in politics?”