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After bridge tragedy, electoral equations may change in BJP bastion of Morbi assembly seat in Gujarat: AnalystSEXI News

Political observers say that although the Patidar-dominated Morbi assembly seat in Gujarat is considered a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) bastion, the electoral equations this time may change due to a number of factors, including the recent bridge tragedy. 135 people had lost their lives.

The entry of Arvind Kejriwal-led Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) into the electoral fray and the long-pending urban infrastructure issues could also be one of the deciding factors in Morbi, where the margin of victory has been small in the last three elections, Political experts told PTI.

The then Morbi princely state was called the ‘Paris of Saurashtra region’ before independence, thanks to its visionary Jadeja rulers.

Today, it is famous for the ceramic and watch industries, which provide employment to more than half a million people who come here for jobs from across the country.

However, economic development in Morbi is hampered by poor roads and traffic jams, claim the locals.

At present, Morbi Municipality, Zilla Panchayat and Taluka Panchayat are ruled by BJP.

Morbi assembly seat comes under Kutch Lok Sabha constituency, which is represented by Dalit BJP MP Vinod Chavda.

According to Vinod Bhadja, President of Floor Tiles Division of Morbi Ceramic Manufacturers Association, bad roads and traffic problems have been the main problems here for many years.

“Morbi is a ceramics hub with a combined annual turnover of Rs 65,000 crore. Though BJP has done a lot of work, still we are facing issues of traffic jams, water-logging and bad roads in and around the city.

“People of Morbi are somewhat unhappy as our core issues remain unresolved for more than two decades,” he claimed.

Morbi saw some interesting political developments in the last decade, including the Patidar reservation movement led by Hardik Patel and the defeat of five-time BJP MLA Kantilal Amrutia.

Amrutia, popularly known as Kanabhai, had won from Morbi assembly seat in 1995, 1998, 2002, 2007 and 2012.

In 2017, riding on an anti-BJP wave in Morbi, one of the major centers of the Patidar reservation movement, Congress candidate Brijesh Merja defeated Amrutia by a modest margin of 3,419 votes.

In 2012, Amrita had defeated Meraja by 2,760 votes. Both of them are Patidars.

Merja, considered a gentle and learned leader, left the Congress in 2020 and joined the ruling BJP. In the subsequent by-election, he was successful in defeating Congress’ old-timer Jayantilal Patel by 4,649 votes.

Last year, Merja was appointed minister of state with independent charge of the panchayat as well as skill, labor and employment departments in the new cabinet formed under Bhupendra Patel’s chief ministership.

When a suspension bridge over the Machhu river in Morbi collapsed on the evening of October 30, killing 135 people, Amrita made headlines when videos of her jumping into water to rescue the victims were shared on social media platforms. went viral.

Though the BJP is yet to announce its candidates, political experts believe that it will once again field Merja and not Amrtia, despite her bravery and popularity among the masses. contesting elections.

“Most people in Morbi want to see Amrutiya as a BJP candidate. But even if Merja is selected, the BJP’s core voters will eventually vote for him, as the party’s election symbol matters to him,” said local political analyst Ravindra Trivedi.

He said the selection of the candidate would be crucial this time as the margin of victory in Morbi is less.

Maulik Sanghvi, owner of a local grocery store, said, “We have no problem with the BJP and its government. But Amrita was better than Merja. Amrita was an MLA for nearly 25 years and no one came close to her performance. He should be given ticket as he is perfect for Morbi. According to Trivedi, the chances of the Congress winning may increase if the party chooses young Patidar face Manoj Panara (Patel) instead of Jayantilal Patel, who had lost to BJP candidates five times since 1995.

“Panara is a young Patidar face who has a lot of popularity. He was once with Hardik Patel during the reservation movement. They have a huge support base here,” said Trivedi.

“The chances of Congress will increase if Panara is given ticket instead of Jayantilal. You candidate cannot get more than 5,000 votes. Given the history of low win margin here, this may change the final equation,” said the political analyst.

AAP has already declared Pankaj Ransaria as its candidate, who is a well-known face in some Patidar areas of Morbi including Raopar Road.

Morbi has about 2.90 lakh voters, including 80,000 Patidars, 35,000 Muslims, 30,000 Dalits, 30,000 members of the Sathwara community (from the Other Backward Classes category), 12,000 Ahirs (OBCs), and 20,000 Thakor-Koli community members (OBCs). .

According to political analyst and local businessman KD Padsumbia, while Patidar voters are equally divided between the Congress and the BJP, the ruling party enjoys the support of most members of the Sathwara, Kolis and Dalit communities.

He said that Muslims have traditionally been with the Congress, but AAP can make a dent in the vote bank of the Congress.

“Though Merja’s performance as a minister was good and appreciated by the BJP leadership, Amrita’s popularity among the masses is huge. But the chances of Merja and Amrutia getting tickets are 70 per cent and 30 per cent respectively.

“This time around 20 per cent Muslim votes are expected for AAP,” he said.

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