Gangs and 'Bhais' to play their role in Gujarat polls

Santokben Kandhal

Gangs and musclemen could play a dominant role in elections in some Assembly constituencies of Bhavnagar, Porbandar, the birthplace of apostle of non-violence Mahatma Gandhi, and Rajkot districts of Saurashtra region of Gujarat.

Porbandar has been a hotbed of criminal activities in recent times where late Santokben Jadeja had emerged as 'Godmother'. Ganglords of Porbandar are once again are in electoral fray.

Another constituency where political power has been shaped by violent means is Gondal in Rajkot district.

And Gujarat minister of state for Fisheries Purshottam Solanki, who is contesting from Bhavnagar rural seat, has courted controversy for his alleged links with the underworld.

Solanki, a dominant leader of Koli community and an accused in 1993 Mumbai communal riots, is known as 'bhai' among his followers. Recently, he was alleged to be involved in a Rs 400-crore fishing contract scam, for which the state Governor has given sanctions for his prosecution.

However, he has a different take on this.

"Since the time you have been electing me, are you not feeling safe and free? Do you face any kind of threat or harassment from anyone?" Solanki had said when he addressed his first election rally at Haatab village after filing his nomination papers.

Congress' Leader of the Opposition Shaktisinh Gohil, belonging to Kshatriya caste, is pitted against Solanki. This is the first time they both are fighting each other.

Bhavnagar Rural has 2,20,565 voters, of whom more than 25 per cent belong to Koli community.

In the small district of Porbandar, it is virtually a fight between rival gangs to control the political leadership.

Sometime in October 2012, there was an advertisement in local papers of Porbandar which read "Call me if someone calls you for extortion or demands ransom in my name."

This declaration was made by none other than Kandhal Jadeja, son of late Santokhben Jadeja, who is contesting from Kutiyana seat in Porbandar district as a Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) candidate.

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