Like how a debutant can threaten a reigning superstar at the box-office, a corporator is challenging a political stalwart for his seat in the state assembly. Vajubhai Vala, who is a sitting BJP MLA from Rajkot West, will square off against city corporator and political greenhorn, Congress’s Atul Rajani, in the upcoming state assembly elections.
At 41, Rajani is one of the youngest candidates to be fielded this assembly elections whereas Vala is the seniormost MLA in Gujarat Assembly.
Vala has several laurels to his credit to boast of, including the national record of presenting most number of budgets as state finance minister. He has been voted to the assembly six times from Rajkot.
Rajani was a toddler when Vala began his political career in 1975.
Rajani began his career as a journalist and is now a two-time corporator and leader of opposition in Rajkot Municipal Corporation (RMC).
Purely by caste equations, Rajkot West will see a close fight. The constituency is dominated by Kadva Patels (38,000 voters), Brahmins (33,000) and Lohanas (27,000).
Leuva and Kadva Patels have remained loyal to the saffron party since 1995, but emergence of Keshubhai Patel and his Gujarat Parivartan Party (GPP) can sway them away from BJP. Keshubhai may be a Leuva, but has enough clout among Kadva Patidars.
GPP has fielded a Kadva, Jaydeep Makadiya, from Rajkot West and whatever votes he draws from the community will prove to be a plus for Rajani and Congress. Also, Rajani is a Lohana married to a Kadva Patel. This alliance too can help him in his venture.
However, past elections suggest that Rajkot West continues to bear saffron hues. Despite several challenges, from inside the party or otherwise, the bastion has remained unshaken. This seat paved the way for Narendra Modi to chief minister’s chair after he emerged from Keshubhai’s shadows.
As for Vala, he manages to ruffle some feathers in his camp, whenever an election draws closer. He is perceived as an arrogant, corrupt man with very selfish ends but like clockwork, everything falls into place in time. Every BJP worker supports him at the time of campaigning.
“Now, everything is settled. Everyone ran haywire for sometime, but now we all will work together,” said Vala, minutes before filing his nomination papers.
The Rajani-Vala contest is a lot like the David-Goliath tussle, and Rajani can always sling hard to win. Moreover, we all know the end to that aforementioned biblical tale.