The Ahmedabad Lok Sabha constituency is likely to witness a keen tussle between Union Minister of State for Home Harin Pathak, who is trying his electoral fortune from here for the sixth time, and Congress' Raj Kumar Gupta.
Once a Congress fortress, till Pathak began his winning spree in 1989, Ahmedabad is the only Parliamentary seat in Gujarat that had a Muslim MP in 1977 -- Ehsan Jafri, who was killed in the post-Godhra riots.
The seat rested with Congress before 1989 and has been under the firm grip of the saffron party since then. Harin Pathak won the seat on BJP ticket in 1989 securing 58.59 per cent of votes polled against Congress candidate Surendra Rajput, who polled only 32.75 per cent of votes.
In subsequent polls in 1991, 1996, 1998 and 1999, Pathak won the seat defeating Congress candidates Mangatbhai Barot, Irshad Mirza, Harubhai Mehta and Girish Dani respectively.
While BJP secured between 53.19 per cent and 61.31 per cent, Congress secured between 32.68 per cent and 43.15 per cent of the total votes polled in these elections.
Pathak won with a margin of 98,517 votes in 1996, with 1,36,813 votes in 1998 while it was reduced by over 60 per cent in 1999 when he won by a margin of only 52,968.
"The downfall of Congress in Gujarat began in the early 80s once the textile mills began closing one by one. This affected the vast population of Dalit and Muslim workers and `stirred' unrest against the ruling party's handling of the economic situation," according to prominent political analyst Achyut Yagnik.
"Moreover, lack of youth power from organisation, including Seva Dal and Mahila Congress, has prevented it from growing and improving its image over the years," he said.
The constituency, with seven assembly segments and 1,37,564 electorate, goes to polls on April 20 with 10 candidates in the fray.
During the last assembly elections, of the seven assembly segments of Ahmedabad Parliamentary constituency, BJP has won five while Congress the two minority dominated seats of Kalupur and Jamalpur.
Kalupur, Rakhial, Shaher Kotda, Khadia, Jamalpur, Maninagar and Narodal assembly segments fall under this constituency.
Pathak, who has carried out a number of developmental works in his constituency -- including flagging off around 18 trains, spurcing up the city airport and a state-of-the-art ordnance factory worth Rs 250 crore coming up on city outskirts -- is confident about his victory.
"Why will I not win for the sixth time? Every one knows me and the work I have been doing consistently for the past three decades here," Pathak asked while speaking to PTI even as he goes for his round of campaigning.
Ruling out any factor such as `minority vote', he said "it is no longer relevant. People want to vote for those who get their work done."
Congress candidate Raj Kumar Gupta said "my clean image acquired in 30 years of politics will be my winning factor and the BJP's downfall in the upcoming hustings".