“With Tata Motors’ Nano Project here, I have put Sanand on world map,” boasted chief minister Narendra Modi. Nano might have helped Modi in branding Gujarat and his government as industry-friendly, but it did not help him win Sanand constituency.
Narendra Modi’s success in getting Tata Motors to opt for Chharodi instead of Singur was considered as coup for him. Modi government dished out a number of sops including 3,500 acre land at throwaway prices and soft loan of Rs10,000 crore to pursue Ratan Tata to move to Gujarat. There is no denying the fact that Nano’s arrival helped in branding Gujarat as industry-friendly state. More than that, it helped Narendra Modi to create his own image as ‘Vikas Purush’.
However, Nano Model of development did not help him politically in ‘Nano City’ Sanand. BJP’s candidate Kama Rathod was defeated by Congress’ Karmashi Patel by 4,148 votes.
Sanand constituency came into existence after delimitation of 2008. Earlier, it was part of Viramgam and Bavla assembly constituencies. After delimitation, 68 villages of Sanand Taluka and 20-odd villages of Bavla Taluka were included in Sanand assembly constituency. Both Bavla and Viramgam seats were won by BJP candidates in 2007 and 2002 elections. Kanti Lakum of BJP defeated Congress’ Gunwant Makwana by more than 11,000 and 14,000 votes in 2002 and 2007 respectively. In Viramgam, Vaju Dodiya of BJP defeated Congress’ Premji Vadlani by 3,064 votes in 2002 and BJP candidate Kama Rathod defeated Congress’ Jagdish Patel by 3,300 votes.
However, after Sanand constituency came into being, caste equations changed. The seat is dominated by Koli-Patel voters followed by Kshatriya, Schedule Caste and Thakor voters. Koli-Patel community has around 42,000 voters, while Kshatriya community has 36,000 voters.
Caste equations, anti-incumbency, firing on schedule caste members in Thangadh and rebellion within BJP played key role in defeat of BJP in Sanand constituency. Congress fielded Koli-Patel candidate Karmashi Patel taking into view caste equations. Koli-Patel community leaders had decided to support the community candidate irrespective of party affiliation, said sources. “We got successful in getting around 80% voters of Koli-Patel community to poll booths,” said a local Congress leader from Sanand.
Moreover, BJP’s Kama Rathod’s negative approach on some local issues also went against him. Rathod was considered as an outsider as he is a resident of Surendranagar district’s Vadgam. The party workers were expecting ticket to a local candidate. Karadiya Rajput community leader Kanbha Gohel and Gujarat BJP’s Yuva Morcha president Pradipsinh Vaghela were in race. As party decided to prefer Rathod over Gohel and Vaghela, local workers were demoralised. Gohel rebelled and joined Congress ahead of elections, said sources.
After Nano’s arrival in Chharodi, property and land prices shot up like anything making it unaffordable for locals. “I believe Nano project has helped traders and shopkeepers in Sanand town get more business. Many villagers are now moving around in luxurious cars. However, land prices are beyond common farmers’ reach. If I want to buy more agriculture land, it is just impossible for me,” said Rajendrasinh Vaghela, a farmer from Sanand.
Moreover, property rents have gone up like anything as local can’t afford. “After industrialisation property rents have sky-rocketed, which has benefited only a few. How can a local earning Rs7,000-8,000 can afford to pay rent of Rs3,000? Workers from other states can stay here in group as they are not accompanied by their family, so they can share and afford the rent,” said Pankajsinh Vaghela, a resident of Sanand.
It is also believed the Rathod did not support BJP candidates in elections of Agriculture Produce Market Committee (APMC) and played a negative role in abduction and murder of a Kshatriya community youngster. “Whenever you call him for local problem, instead of listening he just asked us to contact local leader. Then why shouldn’t we have a local person as MLA who can understand our problems,” said a local resident of Sanand.
Modi tried to woo the voters with development story and prosperity Nano project brought to Sanand region, but local issues seems to overpowered development agenda. Majority voters from Koli-Patel, Kashtriya, Thakor, Schedule caste and minority voted for Congress leading to defeat of Modi’s man in Nano land.