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HindustanTimes Fri,21 Nov 2014

Advantage BJP in central areas
Raveen Thukral, PTI
Vadodara, December 11, 2002
First Published: 01:44 IST(11/12/2002)
Last Updated: 01:44 IST(11/12/2002)

In central Gujarat, the upsurge of Hindutva sentiments is benefiting the BJP. People in this region have neither forgotten Godhra nor the events that followed.

The districts of Panchmahals, Dahod, Kaira and Vadodara, which experienced the post-Godhra riots, have been affected by undercurrents of the Hindutva wave.

And unlike Saurashtra or other parts of Gujarat, the rural and tribal areas of this region, particularly in Panchmahals and Vadododra, have a BJP tilt. The Congress is losing ground.

The panic among the minorities in this region is more than evident. Muslims in Vadodara want the polling booths to be shifted out of Hanuman Tekri where 14 people were burnt alive just a few months ago.

Vadodara, however, is not the only symbol of Gujarat's shame. In riot-scarred central Gujarat, which will have the biggest presence of security forces, signs of communal devastation are evident.

In the tribal-dominated district of Panchmahals, of which Godhra is a part, anti Muslim propaganda by right-wing Hindu outfits has succeeded in partly shifting tribal loyalty away from the Congress, which won 31 of the 43 constituencies here in the last assembly elections.

But while the BJP may make gains in this region, Godhra has not completely clouded the harsh realities of the government's poor track record.

Scarcity of water and electricity, and the co-operative bank scam are high priorities with the electorate here, since Anand - the biggest success story of the country's co-operative movement - is in the region.

If one goes purely by arithmetic, the Congress has a good chance of improving its tally.


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