Skip to main content

How Gujarat's saffron brigade targeted interior village in Vadgam, battleground of state's independent Dalit face

By Tanushree Gangopadhyay
Is the saffron brigade in a state of turmoil at the thought of losing at the hands of Gujarat's Dalit face, Jignesh Mevani, fighting from Vadgam, a North Gujarat constituency, as independent supported by Congress? Perturbed by this scenario, they appeared to have targeted an interior village of the constituency, Chhaniyana.
Deep down in this remote village of Banaskantha district, BJP candidate Vijay Chakravarty ruffled his sleeves and managed to suspend polling at the two booths 112 and 113 for five hours from 12 noon.
On a complaint Mevani had got ink marks put close to the election symbol adjacent to his name on the EVM, Chakravarty he and his agent Rakesh Vagmar alleged thst the rival candidate had tampered with the machine. He demanded that the polls be stalled and repoll be ordered.
They refused to listen to polling officials, who were compelled to clean the machine to continue the polling. Presiding Officer Bhuvan Sadhu, exasperated by the protesting BJP, said that 744 votes out of 1,920 had already been cast. Over 100 voters were in the queue to cast their votes.
"How can we allow the polling, as most villagers are illiterate. They will get influenced to vote for Mevani after seeing the ink marks," thundered Vagmer. "We want two new machines and the polls can certainly be held tomorrow. We have given applications to the Presiding Officer."
Sadhu was anguished at such behaviour saying that "even as the voters are keen to continue, they are shouting at me. It is not my fault, the Election Commission has to take the decision." Polling was restarted after Mevani came and insisted on continuing. Vagmere, Chakravarty and several others refused to allow any polling.
Returning Officer DK Hadiyol, who rushed, in could not handle the situation, as they continued to argue and created a din. "I am in no position to stall the polling. The Election Commission (EC) is the decision making authority."
EC ordered a repoll, but the whole episode suggested BJP frustration.
A scheduled caste constituency, Vadgam has a unique demographic profile. It has mainly Chowdhary, Dalit and Muslim communities. It is a potato bowl, say farmers. "We also grow wheat, groundnut and several other vegetables. It is an important point for Banas dairy. Our village is an important automobile centre. We drive auto rickshaws", said a passerby.
"This has been a Congress bastion. My father Ashok Dabhi was an MLA from the Congress party soon after emergency", recalled Pradeep Dabhi. He runs two schools in the village, but lives in Palanpur, not very far away. Ironically, Haribhai Chowdhary, BJP MP from Banaskantha, belongs to this village.
"Jignesh's popularity has irked the BJP, hence they gave created this problem. They have needed some excuse to slurr him, hence they got someone to tamper with the EVM illegally", one of the women who squatted since 12 noon merely to cast their vote amidst the melee said. "We have come from long distance merely to exercise our franchise."
"Look at their audacity, they illegally photographed the EVM with the ink mark and posted it on WhatsApp", complained a Mevani supporter. "However ,this unruliness will certainly be overruled as it is illegal and very innocuous."
Mevani and his supporters in Vadgam are upbeat. They are confident of his victory. Habib Khan, tractor owner, said: "All the 25 villages I visited today gave Mevani the top. There are 2.60 lakh voters in 145 villages in the constituency. With 70 per cent voting we are sure to win."
Rojasana, Chhapia, Magarwada, Vadgam and several other villages had a heavy turn out. Students returned to Rojasana from Ahmedabad to vote.

Comments

TRENDING

Missed call drive for VVPAT verification follows online plea to "pressure" poll panel

By Our Representative
Several political activists have begun a new campaign, asking concerned citizens to give a missed call on 9667655855 to “support the demand that 2019 Loksabha elections must be declared only after verification of 50% electronic voting machines (EVMs) with Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) receipts.” The effort, supported by civil society networks across India, is meant to "further pressure" India's election machinery to ensure that the poll outcome becomes more transparent.

Did Modi own, buy digital camera costing Rs 7 lakh in 1987-88, also used email?

Counterview Desk
In an interview to the news channel News Nation, aired on Saturday last, Prime Minister Narendra Modi declaring that he had approved the air strike despite bad weather because he felt the clouds would hide Indian planes from Pakistani radar is known to have become a laughing stock across India.

Now, top Gujarat "litterateur" close to Modi says: Godse was patriot, so was Gandhi

By Rajiv Shah
A little over a week after Prime Minister Narendra Modi criticized BJP candidate from Bhopal Pragya Thakur for calling Nathuram Godse a patriot saying he would never forgive her for the remark, a top Sangh Parivar ideologue, known to close to Modi in Gujarat, has supported her, saying her statement should be seen “within a context.” Thakur won from Bhopal by more than 3.5 lakh votes defeating her nearest rival, veteran Congressman and ex-Madhya Pradesh chief minister Digvijay Singh.

When a neo-nationalist "invaded" hijab clad ladies, Bengali looking scholar in Delhi metro

By Aditi Kundu*
Travelling in Delhi metro on a daily basis to commute from Mayur Vihar to Dwarka, I see diverse people everyday. One can hear them talk about different aspects of life, from kitchen pilitics to national politics. On the morning of May 13, I witnessed a strange incident; disturbing and amusing at the same time.

Terror attacks: Difference in public reactions in India, those in Colombo, Christchurch

By Battini Rao*
Recently, on April 20 during Easter Sunday, more than 250 people were killed in a series of coordinated terrorist attacks in churches and hotels in Colombo, Sri Lanka. Local Islamic organisations Thawheed Jamath (NJT) and Jamathei Milathu Ibrahim (JMI) are held responsible for the attack. Islamic State has also claimed responsibility.

Women lost 88 lakh jobs in 2018: Why Modi "failed" to address their disempowerment?

Counterview Desk
Five human rights leaders Anjali Bhardwaj, Shabnam Hashmi, Purnima Gupta, Dipta Bhog, and Amrita Johri of the Women March for Change have posed 56 questions (alluding to Modi’s claim of 56 inches chest) to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP against the backdrop of his interview with a Bollywood star, which was allegedly masqueraded as a “non-political” conversation.

World Bank clarifies: Its 26th rank to India not for universal access to power but for ease of doing business

By Our Representative
In a major embarrassment to the Government of India, the World Bank has reportedly clarified that it has not ranked India 26th out of 130 countries for providing power to its population. The top international banker’s clarification comes following Union Power Minister Piyush Goyal’s claim that India has “improved to 26 position from 99” in access to electricity in just one year.

Disproportionately high death sentences against Dalits, Adivasis, Muslims: UN told

Counterview Desk
In their joint submission to the United Nations Human Rights Committee to meet for the listing of adoption of list of issues at its 126th session, July 1-26, 2019, top Dalit rights organizations have taken strong exception to, among other things, "disproportional application of death sentencing by the judiciary of minorities, such as Muslims, Dalits and Adivasis".

India's 80% construction sites "unsafe", deaths 20 times higher than those in Britain

By Rajiv Shah
The Government of India may be seeking to project India’s construction sector as the country’s second-largest employer of the country after agriculture, providing jobs to more than 44 million people, and contributing nearly 9% to the national GDP, yet, ironically, its workforce is more unprotected than any other industrial sector of the country. Data suggest that the possibility of a fatality is five times more likely in the construction industry  than in a manufacturing industry, and the risk of a major injury is 2.5 times higher.

India sans Modi preferable, Congress worthier recipient of Indians’ votes: The Economist

By Our Representative
In a strongly-worded and crucial commentary on Prime Minister Narendra Modi as the electoral political battle is on, influential British weekly “The Economist”, has declared that “Indians, who are in the midst of voting in a fresh election, would be better off with a different leader”, even as pointing out that that under Modi, “India’s ruling party poses a threat to democracy.”