Late Congress leader Ahmed Patel's Bharuch goes to AAP in Poll Alliance

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Late Congress leader Ahmed Patel’s Bharuch goes to AAP in Poll Alliance

| Updated: February 24, 2024 16:31

BJP and AAP's Chaitar Vasava will fight it out from this tribal dominated seat that has been with the saffron party since 1989.

Now that the Aam Aadmi Party and the Congress have announced an electoral alliance, all eyes are on the Bharuch Loksabha seat in Gujarat. There are 26 Loksabha seats in Gujarat. Currently, all 26 are with the BJP. As per the AAP-Congress alliance, two seats in Gujarat, Bharuch and Bhavnagar, have been given to Arvind Kejriwal’s AAP and Congress will field their candidates on 26 seats.AAP and Congress are part of the opposition’s I.N.D.I.A bloc, formed to take on the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections.

Both Bharuch and Bhavnagar Loksabha seats have become BJP strongholds for over two decades. Congress has not won Bharuch since 1989 and Bhavnagar since 1996. The rationale of Congress in giving these two seats to AAP is because AAP had emerged victorious in one each of the seven Assembly constituencies falling under the Bharuch and Bhavnagar Loksabha seats.

Mansukh Vasava (BJP)

Mansukh Vasava, a tribal has been winning the Bharuch Loksabha seat for the BJP since last six terms. Bhartiben Shiyal, a Koli has won the Bhavnagar seat for the BJP since 2014. Before that, Rajendrasinh Rana won it for the saffron party from 1996 to 2004.

Sonia Gandhi with late Ahmed Patel

Veteran Congress leader, late Ahmed Patel, who was former Congress president Sonia Gandhi’s close confidant and political advisor, last won Bharuch for the Congress party in 1984. After that, the BJP always fielded a tribal and won. Since 1989, Chandubhai Deshmukh and Mansukh Vasava have won the seat. If Mansukh Vasava re-contests and wins the 2024 Loksabha elections; it will be his seventh term representing the BJP. Ironically, Mansukh Vasava had resigned from the BJP in 2020, reportedly after the Narendra Modi government failed to declare eco-sensitive zones in and around Narmada district of Gujarat. Vasava, however, had said that he had resigned due to falling severe health issues and a broken spine. However, he had withdrawn his resignation within 24 hours.

Chaitar Vasava (AAP)

Though Ahmed Patel hailed from Bharuch, he never contested the Loksabha election after he lost in 1989. He then realised how BJP had established its’ strong hold in the tribal district. However, considering Ahmed Patel’s Bharuch connection and his rich political legacy, the Gujarat Congress was keen in fielding either of his children for the 2024 Loksabha polls. Patel’s daughter Mumtaz Patel and her younger brother Faisal Patel were in fray for the Congress ticket. However, the All India Congress Committee which took a final call, chose to abide by AAP’s desire. AAP has already declared Chaitar Vasava, their MLA from Dediapada, one of the seven Assembly seats falling under Bharuch Loksabha as their 2024 Parliamentary Elections’ candidate.

Bharuch has nearly 37 per cent tribal votes besides over 24% Muslim and 3.5% per cent scheduled caste votes. The BJP has been strategically fielding tribal candidates from Bharuch. Out of the 7 assembly segments here, AAP’s Chaitar Vasava won one seat while BJP cornered the remaining six seats. AAP candidates lost their deposits on the other six seats.

Faisal Patel Congress

Ahmed Patel’s son had yesterday thanked Congress leader Rahul Gandhi in his X post for giving him a patient hearing and had assured that he was confident of winning the Bharuch seat. However, a senior Congress leader from Delhi told Vibes of India that “nobody in Congress had given any assurance to Faisal Ahmed Patel”. The leader had even claimed that Rahul Gandhi had not spoken or met Faisal. Vibes of India could not verify this independently.

Ahmed Patel, Faisal Patel and Mumtaz Patel

Ahmed Patel’s daughter Mumtaz who has been actively cultivating Bharuch as her political debut took a stance on X reasserting her association with Congress. She did express her disappointment for the seat not going to Congress but assured that she would work towards further strengthening the Congress iin Bharuch. Faisal Patel on the other hand, had mentioned that he nor “committed Congress workers of Bharuch ” will support the AAP candidate.

When Congress had surprised the nation by emerging victorious in 2004 amidst BJP’s India Shining campaign; Bharuch had not gone the Congress way. Instead, it had elected Mansukh Vasava of the BJP as their MP, giving him 44.01% votes. Congress had suffered and lost because JD(U)s Chhotu Vasava, another strong tribal leader of Gujarat, had pocketed 16.39% votes. Congress’ Muhammed Patel had bagged 33.4% of the total votes polled. In 2009, Congress marginally increased their vote percentage to 37.8% but Mansukh Vasava nevertheless won with 41.5 % votes. In 2014, when Narendra Modi became the Prime Minister, Mansukh Vasava’s victory margin jumped from 41.5 to 51.7%, a 10.27% increase than his earlier term. The combined vote percentage of Congress and JD (U) was less than 42.5%. Interestingly, 2.23% voters here had opted for NOTA then.

Chhotu Vasava

The Congress performance has continued its decline in Bharuch. In the last Loksabha election, the Congress vote share further dipped to 26.4% and the BJP’s increased to 55.47%. Chhotu Vasava who had earlier contested from JD(U) had by then floated his Bhartiya Tribal Party which captured 12.53% of the total votes. If Mansukh Vasava, the sitting BJP MP is again given a ticket, the 67 year old will face the 36 year old Chaitar Vasava of AAP who was his and his son Mahesh’s personal aide for years. Chaitar has been demanding a separate Bhilistan, a State for Tribals, supporting tribals’ struggle for land under the Forest Rights Act. He was arrested by the BJP government and was released on bail only a few days ago.

Also Read: Congress and AAP Overcome Differences, Announce Alliance for Lok Sabha Polls

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