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Saturday, Aug 24, 2019

Gujarat elections: JD(U) hits back at rebel Chhotu Vasava with another Vasava

MLA Chhotu Vasava is one of the state’s tallest tribal leaders and has won from Jhagadia seat five times.

assembly-elections Updated: Nov 23, 2017 20:33 IST
Hiral Dave
Hiral Dave
Hindustan Times, Ahmedabad
People sit during a rally in Gandhinagar on October 23.
People sit during a rally in Gandhinagar on October 23.(AP File Photo)

To trounce popular tribal leader and MLA Chhotu Vasava in his pocket borough Jhagadia in Gujarat, his former party Janata Dal (United) has come up with a novel plan: Field a little-known candidate with the same name.

The constituency, reserved for scheduled tribe, goes to the polls in the first phase of Gujarat assembly elections on December 9. Vasava is one of the state’s tallest tribal leaders and has won from the seat five times.

On the ground, the newcomer Chhotu Vasava is a political novice with hardly any experience and therefore poses little threat to the tribal leader, who used to be the JD(U)’s only MLA in the state before he quit the party during the Rajya Sabha elections in August.

But, as similar experiences in other parts of the country during elections show, namesakes confuse voters especially in semi-literate and rural regions. In 2014, Congress candidate Ajit Jogi lost to his BJP opponent Chandu Lal Sahu by a slender margin in Mahasamund, where 11 namesakes of the BJP candidate were on the ballot.

“Neither has he contested any election, nor was he active in politics. But he is contesting because the party had asked him so,” said his wife Madhu Vasava over the phone. She added, “He has been out campaigning for three days. We have no idea when he will return.”

Moreover, the new entrant enjoys the JD(U)’s more recognisable poll symbol ‘Arrow’.

The incumbent MLA is contesting the election on the symbol of ‘Autorickshaw’ that belongs to the Bharatiya Tribal Party (BTP), headed by his son Mahesh. He has announced alliance with the Congress for the polls and has been allotted five seats – including Dediyapada for his son.

“My father voted for the Congress in the Rajya Sabha to save democracy. So in the election, while the JD(U) has taken our old symbol, Amit Shah (BJP chief) has found a namesake. But in Jhagadia every voter knows him. He has defeated the Congress and BJP candidates. Their plan will not work,” said Mahesh.

Vasava hit the headlines in August after his vote in the Rajya Sabha elections turned out to be key in Congress candidate Ahmed Patel’s dramatic victory.

Both the Congress and BJP have been trying to establish their clout over the tribal region of Gujarat that extends into neighbouring Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh. Tribals make up 15% of the state’s population. Except for former environment minister Ganpat Vasava, the BJP doesn’t have a tribal face that can appeal to the community.

First Published: Nov 23, 2017 20:31 IST

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