Gujarat polls: Blood relatives battle it out in 3 constituencies - Hindustan Times
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Gujarat polls: Blood relatives battle it out in 3 constituencies

ByMelvyn Thomas
Nov 15, 2022 01:57 PM IST

Close family members have been pitted against each other in at least three constituencies in Gujarat- Jhagadia, Ankleshwar and Morbi

An interesting contest is unfolding in the upcoming Gujarat assembly elections scheduled for next month with close family members pitted against each other in at least three constituencies- Jhagadia and Ankleshwar in Bharuch district and Saurashtra’s Morbi, which was recently in news for a bridge collapse.

Gujarat is scheduled to vote in two phases on December 1 and 5. (AFP)
Gujarat is scheduled to vote in two phases on December 1 and 5. (AFP)

In Ankleshwar-Hansot, former minister Ishwarsinh Thakorbhai Patel is contesting against his brother Vijaysinh Thakorbhai Patel from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Congress respectively. In Jhagadia, powerful tribal leader Chhotubhai Vasava is all set to contest against his son Mahesh Vasava. In Morbi, the BJP has fielded former five-time MLA Kantibhai Amrutiya, who will face his nephew Pankaj Ransariya, who has been given a ticket by the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP).

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Brother Vs Brother

Ishwarsinh Thakorbhai Patel, 58, the former minister of state for cooperation and sports,and a four-term MLA from Ankleshwar-Hansot, has been fielded by the BJP against his elder brother Vijaysinh alias Vallabhbhai Patel, 61, of the Congress. Vallabh Patel is a well-known face in the Koli Patel community in Ankleshwar and Hansot, and he joined the Congress party a few months ago to pursue his political goal of becoming an MLA from Ankleshwar-Hansot after his elder brother refused to relinquish the seat to the BJP.

The Patel brothers are from Kudara village in Bharuch district’s Hansot taluka. Thakorsinh Patel, their father, was a BJP MLA from Ankleshwar in 1990. Ishwarsinh Patel defeated Congress candidate Balubhai Patel in the 2002 assembly election and extended his winning streak in 2017 to become the state cooperation, youth and cultural activities, and transport minister in the Gujarat governments led by chief ministers Vijay Rupani and Anandiben Patel.

On the other hand, Vijaysinh Patel entered active politics in 1987 and was elected as the president of the Ankleshwar Taluka panchayat on a BJP ticket. He also won the Ankleshwar district panchayat elections and is the former chairman of the Hansot Agriculture Produce Market Committee (APMC). He decided to quit the BJP in 2021 and joined the Congress.

When contacted, Vijaysinh Patel said, “The entire Koli community is standing in my support. If he (Ishwarsinh) claims to win the Ankleshwar seat with a margin of 75,000 votes, I have seen three Diwalis more than him and promise to win the seat with a margin of 25,000 votes.”

People familiar with the matter said Ishwarsinh and Vijaysinh, who are residing in Hansot, are not on talking terms with each other. Even the house where they stay in Hansot is divided with a concrete wall to avoid daily contact, said a person close to the family.

Ishwarsinh Vasava said, “The BJP and the Patels have been synonymous in the Ankleshwar assembly constituency since 1990. After my father, I have been winning this seat. Now that my brother is contesting against me, I hope to win the election with a margin of 75,000 votes.”

Father Vs Son

Chhotubhai filed his nomination as an independent candidate from the Jhagadia assembly constituency on the final day of filing nominations, while his son Mahesh Vasava filed his nomination as a candidate of the Bharatiya Tribal Party (BTP). The BTP was formed in 2017 by Chhotubhai and his son, the party’s national president, ahead of the 2017 Gujarat assembly elections. Mahesh won from the Dediapada constituency reserved for ST candidate while Chhotubhai won from the Jhagadia seat, another seat reserved for ST candidates.

The rift between the two came to the fore when the first list of BTP candidates was made public and Mahesh Vasava was given the mandate to contest from the Jhagadia assembly seat that was held by his father for seven terms.

On Sunday, Chhotu Vasava released a video on his official Twitter handle in which he declared, “I am a party myself. It all starts from where I am. I am no stranger to running for office, having done so many times before. After 35 years in office, I still have the support of the voters in the Jhagadia constituency.

Kishore Vasava, Chhotu Vasava’s younger son, arrived at the election office in Jhagadia on Monday to file his father’s nomination papers. He was surrounded by hundreds of Chhotu followers.

According to people familiar with the matter in the BTP, last-minute efforts to appease Chhotu Vasava by family members and senior party leaders were unsuccessful because he was adamant about contesting for the Jhagadia assembly seat against his son Mahesh Vasava.

The BTP has strongholds in Narmada’s Dediapada assembly constituency and Bharuch’s Jhagadia constituency. In the 2017 election, the BTP won both of these seats in coalition with the Congress. Chhotu Vasava won Jhagadia and his son Dediapada. Chhotu Vasava ran for election as a Janata Dal (United) candidate till 2017 before he parted ways to form the BTP with his son.

In May 2022, the BTP formed a coalition with the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP). In Bharuch, a combined rally was held in the presence of AAP national convener and Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal. However, the alliance ended in less than three months. Now, the BTP is contesting the polls with Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar-led Janata Dal (United), or the JD(U).

Uncle Vs Nephew

In Morbi, the BJP has fielded former five-time MLA Kantibhai Amrutiya, who will face his nephew Pankaj Ransariya, who has been given a ticket by the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP). Amrutiya replaces BJP’s sitting MLA Brijesh Merja, who contested on a Congress ticket in 2017 and won against Amrutiya. Merja defected to the BJP in 2020 and contested in the bypolls from Morbi defeating Congress’ Jayantilal Patel. The denial of ticket to Merja is seen to be linked to the recent Morbi bridge collapse on October 30 where 135 people lost their lives. Amrutiya’s name made to the BJP’s list of candidates, days after photographs and visuals of him swimming in the waters of Macchu river, where the suspension bridge collapsed, were circulated on social media.

“We are aware that Ransariya is set to contest against his uncle from the AAP. He was fielded from the AAP days before Amrutiya’s name was declared. The party and the candidate are putting their best efforts to ensure that the uncle is defeated. The bridge collapse shows the failure of the ruling BJP government and we are sure of the AAP’s win in this seat,” said an AAP official who did not wish to be named. Amrutiya did not respond to calls made on his phone.

The state is scheduled to vote in two phases on December 1 and 5.

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