The Bhavnagar Lok Sabha constituency in South-East Gujarat is witnessing a three cornered contest amongst the Congress, BJP and AAP even as both the main parties are battling hard to reach out to the decisive Koli community votes in a bid to combat increasing AAP factor in Bhavnagar.
Bhavnagar has remained with the BJP since 1991 held by five term present MP Rajendrasinh Rana, who has been given rest this time as the party decided to field sitting MLA from Talaja seat and Koli leader Bharti Shiyal.
In Bhavnagar, the Koli community is decisive having 4.50 lakh vote share out of 15.93 lakh total voters which also includes Patel (2.25 lakh), Kshatriya (1.70 lakh), Muslims (75 thousands) and Ahir- Maldhari (60,000).
The Congress, which selected its candidates on the basis of primaries, has fielded a 'Koli' leader Pravin Rathod to lure the community having the largest vote chunk in the constituency.
The Aam Aadmi Party has given ticket to former BJP MLA Kanu Kalsaria who belongs to Ahir community.
Congress has been canvassing the achievements of the UPA government, while BJP has been relying upon the Gujarat model of development and their Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi's 'wave'.
Riding on the anti-corruption agenda, AAP has been claiming to seek votes from all 'castes and creeds' with a hope to get support from dissident communities who are upset by the decision of the major parties to field Koli nominees.
Candidates of BJP and Congress have been raising local as well as national issues, while AAP candidate has been depending upon the single point agenda of eradicating 'crony capitalism' and 'corruption'.
"I myself belong to the Koli community. State Minister Parshottam Solanki, who also belongs to our community, has been canvassing for me. So we are sure to get their (Koli) votes," BJP candidate Bharati Shiyal said.
Shiyal said that sitting MP Rajendrasinh Rana too has been campaigning in favour of BJP and seeking votes by projecting 'development' done by his party's PM candidate.
"We are raising both national and local issues here. People have been suffering due to inflation, corruption and terrorism and we have promised to cure this situation, while in this constituency we have assured continuous electricity and water supply," Shiyal said.