A reserved Lok Sabha constituency, Dahod (ST) has seven assembly segments with over 13 lakh voters. Congress is fielding Prabha Taviad for the third time while BJP has nominated sitting MLA Jasvantsinh Bhabhor and KC Munia of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) is the new kid on the block.
Dahod district is believed to be struggling for water for years. All parties agree that it is yet to get a regular supply of drinking and irrigation water.
In the past 12 Lok Sabha elections, BJP won Dahod only in 1999 and 2004, both times by Babu Katara. In 2004, he won by a mere 361 votes. But, in 2009, Congress wrested the seat by fielding a female candidate for the first time. And, Taviad won by a huge margin of 58,536 votes.
For Taviad and Munia, the pitch could be queered by Bhabhor, the sitting BJP MLA of Limkheda, who is quite popular. In the 2012 assembly election, Fatepura, Limkheda and Devgadbaria were won by BJP whereas Congress took Dahod, Jhalod, Garbada and Santrampur.
Of the 13 lakh voters, this LS constituency has over 70% tribals. Apart from Dahod city and some pockets of Devgadbaria, the remaining assembly segments are all dominated by tribals.
The 59-year-old Taviad has been in politics for the past three decades. A medical practitioner, she is married to doctor Kishor Taviad. She was member of the women welfare committee from 1986 to 1993. After winning the 15th Lok Sabha election in 2009, she became member of the committee on personnel, public grievances, law and justice.
The 48-year-old Bhabhor is an MA in education who became MLA at the age of 29 in 1995. Till now, he has won five elections from 1995 to 2012. He has been member of the committee on welfare of Scheduled Tribes of the Gujarat Assembly in 1996-97 and its chairman in 2003-04 and 2004-05. He was also selected chairman of the Gujarat State Tribal Development Corporation between 1998 and 1999. Bhabhor had even been deputy minister for food and civil supplies, minister of state for health and family welfare, forests and environment tribal development, rural development, labour and employment in different periods.
Compared to the seasoned politicians of BJP and Congress, AAP has fielded a former state government official. Munia retired as joint secretary of the state legal department in 2005. After doing MA in political science, he did LLB and became lawyer. He resides at Daradu, a small village in Jahlod taluka of Dahod district.
“I have the experience of working for 30 years with various departments of the state and the Centre. Lastly, I was working with the Modi government in Gujarat where I found that corruption had increased at all levels. I will be focusing on issues of corruption and exploitation in my constituency,” said Munia.
“After filing the nomination on Monday, I will get details of campaigning from the party. After that I will start aggressive campaigning,” he said.
Congress has decided to campaign on issues like non-availability of water and denial of land to tribal farmers, said Taviad. “Narmada water has not yet reached here. Besides, the state government has not given land to the tribal farmers. There are more than 4,000 applications pending in Dahod itself. Government does not allow MPLAD grant for setting up facilities on private land. So, we have been facing problems in creating facilities as majority of the land in tribal areas does not belong to the public,” she contended.
The BJP candidate was not available. But the party MLA from Fatepura, Ramesh Katara, said: “We are talking about the development that has taken place in Dahod because of the BJP. We have brought water to the district. Secondly, we are also promoting our chief minister, who will be the country’s prime minister.”