For once, the silent lanes of Ambawadi echoed to the drumbeats as candidates in the Ellisbridge constituency went into a poll drive seeking votes. The campaigning style of candidates from both prominent parties, BJP and GPP was in stark contrast to each other.
Jagruti Pandya, the widow of slain ex-BJP minister Haren Pandya, who represented the constituency before he was shot dead, is contesting on a Gujarat Parivartan Party (GPP) ticket. BJP has fielded party’s city president and sitting MLA Rakesh Shah.
While Pandya was seen campaigning in a car, surrounded by only a handful of GPP supporters, she made it a point to visit majority of the houses, clinics, shops asking people to vote for her in the name of parivartan. On the other hand, Shah could be seen walking in the lanes – ala evening walk with family and around 50 supporters. He met people sitting in society garden, benches but not at many places -it was door to door campaign!
“Haren Pandya na patni, Jagrutiben Pandya, GPP na Ellisbridge na umedvar loksampark mate apna vistar ma avya che. (Late Haren Pandya’s wife Jagrutiben Pandya, a GPP candidate from Ellisbridge has come to meet you”) went the announcement at around 10:30am on a lazy Sunday.
As soon as the announcement got over, a man waived his hand towards Jagrutiben from balcony of his residence on first floor introducing himself, “I am Haren’s teacher. He had done commendable work. We are with you,” announcing his support for Jagrutiben.
The scene was no different at many residential colonies in Ambawadi area, where people came out to meet Jagrutiben remembering her husband’s work in the area 15 years back. As Jagrutiben interacts with voters in the area - senior citizens, middle aged and youngsters, she lacks the traits of a politician, a confident walk, poised eyes and promises, but that could well be her biggest strength too.
Her simplicity and personal connect with the voters, thanks to her campaigning experience with her husband in past may emerge as her forte. “All of you know how I have suffered in last few years. Leaving all that behind, I have decided to fight again. I want to continue what Haren did for all of you,” she would appeal to voters.
GPP which fielded Jagrutiben from Ellisbridge, considered a BJP bastion, has not lost the point of keeping Haren Pandya’s name at the centre of its campaign in the constituency.
“Jagrutiben ne mat etle Haren Pandya ne sachi shraddhanjali” the statement of a GPP worker is proof enough to suggest what GPP is aiming at. A bramhin, Jagrutiben’s fight against BJP’s Jain candidate seems a tough battle in a Jain dominated constituency.
But if voters’ response is anything to go by, Pandya me prove to be a handful for Shah and may usher in the parivartan, she and her party has been seeking this election.