The most pitched poll battels to be watched in this elections in Gujarat will be in Porbandar and Bhavnagar Rural. The BJP appears to be in a win-win situation on both the seats. If the party wins these seats, it would have humbled Shaktisinh Gohil and Arjunsinh Modhwadia, two Congress stalwarts who have caused it much humiliation in the past.
If the BJP loses on the two seats, the defeats would help it sideline two of its own most controversial leaders, Parshottam Solanki and Babu Bokhiria, who have caused it much embarrassment because of their crime connection.
Fielding Solanki against Gohil in Bhavnagar (rural) and Bokhiria against Modhwadia in Porbandar is something of a BJP masterstroke for yet another reason. Gohil is the leader of opposition in the current assembly and Modhwadia is the president of Gujarat Pradesh Congress Committee. The two leaders are perhaps the most important campaigners of the state Congress.
The presence of Solanki, a powerful Koli leader, and Bokhiria, an influential leader of the Mer community, would ensure that Gohil and Modhwadia spend most of the time campaigning for themselves in their own respective constituencies. This would mean less time for rest of the state!
In comparison to the two Congress leaders, chief minister Narendra Modi, who is contesting from Maninagar seat for the third consecutive time, will hardly need to spend any time in his constituency.
Further, the recent delimitation of constituencies has changed caste equations in Bhavnagar rural and Porbandar in such a way that the seats now appear to favour the BJP. Bhavnagar rural was created after the delimitation.
In the 2002 elections, Gohil had lost to BJP’s Sunil Oza by a margin of 10,034 votes from Bhavnagar South constituency but, in 2007, he won against BJP’s Jitu Vaghani by 7,134 (4.63%) votes. Solanki, on the other hand, has always beaten his nearest rivals by a minimum of 15% votes in all the past elections he has contested.
It may be mentioned here that Solanki had been contesting from Ghogha constituency since the 1998 elections. Ghogha, however, has been dissolved as an assembly seat and most of its voters are now voters of Bhavnagar rural. The caste equation in the newly created Bhavnagar rural seat now gives Solanki an advantage over Gohil.
Many members of the Congress party in Bhavnagar district are of the opinion that it would take a miracle for Gohil to win against Solanki because of the caste factor. Bhavnagar rural has 2,20,565 voters of which more than 25% belong to the Koli community.