Ex-MLA Sabir Kabliwala is in the fray as an Independent candidate again
Jamalpur-Khadia, one of the only two minority dominated seats in Ahmedabad, looks set for a triangular fight for the second time in a row.
The seat, which came into existence with the merger of Congress hub Jamalpur and BJP bastion Khadia in 2012, will see a direct fight between sitting MLA Bhushan Bhatt of BJP, Congress candidate Imran Khedawala and former Congress MLA Sabir Kabliwala, who is contesting as independent after being denied a ticket.
Bhatt had won in 2012 with a margin of 6,300 votes, but this became possible only because of Kabliwala's presence in the fray, which led to a division of minority votes. As against Bhatt's 48,000 votes, Congress candidate Samirkhan Sipai got 41,700 votes, but Kabliwala got over 30,500 votes, which turned out to be decisive in the end.
For the upcoming polls, Kabliwala was seen as front-runner for the Congress ticket, but much to his surprise, independent councillor Imran Khedawala was named as the candidate from the seat at the very last moment.
A miffed Kabliwala filed his nomination as an independent candidate, and if his words are anything to go by, he is determined to contest.
"I am not going to withdraw. I was told by Congress that I was the candidate, and that I would be given the mandate at the collector office. However, someone else was given the ticket," Kabliwala told DNA. Kabliwala claimed the same had happened in 2012 when Congress picked Sipai over him at the last minute. He admitted that his entry would split the Chhipa votes, the minority community that both he and Khedawala belong to, but is confident of winning with the help of Dalit votes.
There are 1.98 lakh voters in Jamalpur-Khadia. Muslims account for about 1 lakh, of whom Chhipas number around 25,000. There are also over 50,000 Dalit voters, and others about 40,000.
Wary of the threat Kabliwala's presence in the election battle poses to his chances of winning, Congress nominee Khedawala said that they are making efforts to convince him to withdraw from the contest.
"Our community leaders are talking with Sabir Kabliwala to convince him to withdraw his candidature, and I am hopeful we will be able to convince him," Khedawala said. He, however, added that he would win even in case of a triangular fight.
Incidentally, 13 other Muslim candidates have also filed their nominations as independent candidates from Jamalpur-Khadia seat, which would divide the minority votes. Efforts are on to convince some of them to withdraw from the race.