Gujarat polls: BJP fields Mohan Konkani, 1st Christian candidate in 20 years - Hindustan Times
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Gujarat polls: BJP fields Mohan Konkani, 1st Christian candidate in 20 years

ByMelvyn Thomas
Nov 17, 2022 05:19 PM IST

Of the 27 tribal seats in the 182-member House, at least eight seats are predominantly Christian-dominated, though as a token gesture Congress has fielded only one Christian candidate for years.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for the first time in 20 years has fielded a lone Christian candidate in the upcoming assembly election in Gujarat’s Vyara. BJP’s Mohan Konkani will be up against Punaji Gamit of the Congress, a four-time MLA from Vyara.

Konkani is a social worker and farmer, although he has been an active BJP member since 1995 (Representative Image)
Konkani is a social worker and farmer, although he has been an active BJP member since 1995 (Representative Image)

Konkani, 48, is the BJP candidate of the Vyara assembly constituency in Tapi district, a tribal-dominated area rests through the Christian vote bank. He hails from Haripura village, in the Dolvan taluka.

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Gamit, 64, a Christian convert, has represented Congress in the Vyara assembly seat since 2007.

The Vyara assembly segment is a staunch Congress stronghold. About 45% of the 2.23 lakh voters in the Vyara assembly constituency are Christians.

Konkani is a social worker and farmer, although he has been an active BJP member since 1995.

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In 2015, he contested and defeated Congress’s cooperative leader Mavji Chaudhary in the Tapi District panchayat election and currently holds the position as panchayat chief.

Mohan Konkani expressed his gratitude to the BJP’s leadership, saying, “I am indebted to the party’s high command and the BJP for their trust and faith in me. On December 1 (polling date), I will make history in Vyara, and I am certain of it. The political atmosphere in Vyara has improved and I can count on the support of the constituency’s 72,000 Christian voters.”

When asked about the BJP’s pro-minority stance in Vyara. A senior BJP leader said, “I can talk to any government official in the BJP regime and have my concerns addressed. The Hindutva era has ended, and now it’s “Sab Ka Saath, Sab Ka Vikas.”

Of the 27 tribal seats in the 182-member House, at least eight seats are predominantly Christian-dominated, though as a token gesture Congress has fielded only one Christian candidate for years.

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Christian tribals’ animosity toward the BJP has been significantly dampened since the 2007 elections. Cooperatives and dairy schemes, both projects of the state government, are considered particularly appealing by the tribals because of the direct economic benefits they bring to the tribes’ members. Since tribals make up the second-largest vote bank in Gujarat after Odisha, the shift in sentiment in Vyara may be an indicator of forthcoming politics elsewhere in the state.

A political analyst on condition of anonymity told HT, “It’s a win-win for the BJP, which has already emerged as the dominant force replacing Congress in the tribal belt of south Gujarat.”

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