Jasdan Assembly Bypoll in Gujarat: Is Koli community still with Congress?

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New Delhi | Published: December 18, 2018 12:53:06 PM

BJP is desperate to clinch Jasdan and believes that Bavaliya will bag the seat for the party, thereby raising their numbers in Assembly.

Kunvarji Bavaliya campaigns in Jasdan town on Sunday. (Photo Source: Indian Express)

The year 2018 seems to be ending on a positive note for the Congress and its president Rahul Gandhi. The century-old party has managed to wrest control of Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chattisgarh from ruling Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP) and are upbeat on its prospects going into the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. However, one last battle before the big finale will be fought between a resurgent Congress and the BJP in Prime Minister’s Narendra Modi’s home turf. Polling for Jasdan constituency in Rajkot district of Gujarat will be held on December 20.

The election will decide once and for all whether Jasdan is a Congress bastion or current BJP cabinet minister Kunvarji Bavaliya’s fortress. The poll was necessitated after Bavaliya resigned as MLA of Jasdan and joined the BJP who immediately offered him a Cabinet berth and three independent portfolios- Water Resources, Animal Husbandry and Rural Housing Development.

The December 20 by-polls is crucial for Bavaliya who has won the Jasdan seat five times in a row, but on a Congress ticket; a loss could prove to be a massive jolt to Bavaliya’s political career. As for the Congress, the results will indicate if the party still has the backing of the numerically strong Koli community.

The BJP is desperate to clinch Jasdan and believes that Bavaliya will bag the seat for the party, thereby raising their numbers in Assembly.

After sweeping three states in the Hindi heartland in the recently concluded Assembly elections, the Congress wants to end Bavaliya’s five-term reign in Jasdan and has fielded Koli community strongman Avchar Nakia to take him on. Both leaders belong to the Koli community who form 35 per cent of the voter base in Jasdan.

The Koli community dominates in 15 to 18 Assembly segments in Saurashtra area of Gujarat.

For the BJP, it has become important to attract this Other Backward Class (OBC) community which has traditionally backed the Congress so far in most of these seats.

Counting of votes will be held on 23 December. If Nakia wins Jasdan, Bavaliya will not only lose his cabinet berth and three portfolios but it will also damage his political career.

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