Independents keep both BJP and Congress on toes in a number of constituencies in Panchmahal, which has seven Assembly seats Thasra, Balasinor, Lunawada, Shehra, Morva Hadaf (ST), Godhra, and Kalol.The most curious case here in Morva Hadaf, where BJP replaced its sitting MLA and Congress gave up the seat for an ally.Determined to wrest the seat, which her mother won in 2012 but did not live to know of it, Bhupendrasinh Khant is in fray as an independent candidate as the seat Congress, which had fielded him in 2013 bye-poll is contesting the seat.Under an alliance with Chhotubhai Vasava, Congress gave this seat to Vasava’s Bhartiya Tribal Party, which has fielded Alpeshbhai Damor from the seat.Only MLA from JDU, who turned rebel and is now backing Sharad Yadav faction of the party, Chhotubhai has been agitating in favour of demand for Bhilistan, a separate state comprising of tribal dominated parts of Guajrat, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Maharasthra.While Chhotubhai has his influence in few seats in Bharuch, the BTP has not much of presence in Panchamahal region. Besides its candidate is also not a much known personality.Chhotubhai Vasva, the JDU MLA from Jhagadia had bargained hard for seats and Congress which was about to field Khant here, gave the seat to BTP at the last moment.The seat was won by Bhupendrasinh’s mother Savita Khant in 2012 by a margin of 11,289 votes. She had defeated BJP’s Bijalbhai Damor. While Savita Khant had got 56,886 votes, Damor had got 45,597 votes. But Savita Khant died on the day results were declared days after having passed into coma on the day of the elections.In 2013 bye-election, Congress fielded Savita’s son Bhupendrasinh Khant in the hope of winning back the seat on sympathy wave but lost it. BJP won the seat with a new candidate Nimisha Suthar, who got 64,840 votes and Khant 47,126 votes.This time again, the BJP changed its sitting MLA and uthar and fielded Vikramsingh Dindor in her place in the wake of a controversy over the non-tribal origin of Suthar’s husband. Dindor was earlier in Congress and his nomination has not gone down well with the local BJP leaders.In Godhra, the headquarter of Panchmahal, an Independent candidate with long time BJP connection Jaswant Parmar, a surgeon by profession has already turned the contest triangular and could upset many a political calculations in both Congress and BJP owing to his association with the dominant Bakshi Panch community in the seat.In Lunawada, two independent candidates are making quite a wave. Two-term sitting MLA from Congress Heerabhai Patel was denied a ticket with the party fielding Paranjayadityasinhji Parmar, the son-in-law of former Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Digvijay Singh. Parmar belongs to Santrampur, 40 kilometers away from Lunawada and faces an outsider tag.In this seat, BJP earlier planned to field Jawan Singh Chauhan but finally the ticket went to Manoj Patel. Former BJP MP Bhupendra Singh Solanki was also a strong contender for the seat. Earlier the BJP District President J P Patel wanted to contest the seat but he was asked not to do so because he was not a resident of Lunawada. Hence the ticket went to Manoj Patel, a Patidar, closely related to him.In Lunawala seat, it’s Patidar Brahmin Bania versus the OBC all the time.Ratan Sinh Rathod, an OBC candidate with erswhile Congress roots is contesting the seat as an independent, who is being backed by Jawan Singh Chauhan. OBC groups in the constituency have now collected a “Fada” (community fund) to finance the electioneering of Rathod.Both Bhupendra Sinh Solanki and and Ratan Sinh Rathod are giving sleepless nights to BJP and Congress candidates.
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