Gujarat elections 2012: Haren Pandya's widow seeks to beat odds in 'revenge' battle

Jagruti Pandya

As the widow of slain BJP leader Haren Pandya fights a 'revenge' battle seeking "justice" for her husband for whose murder she blames Chief Minister Narendra Modi, Elliis Bridge seat is witnessing a poll contest where Jagruti Pandya expects her emotional appeal to triumph over the cold logic that favours her saffron rival.

Located right in the heart of Ahmedabad city, Elliis Bridge, adjoining Modi's constituency Maninagar, is considered a secure seat for BJP, which has won it four times in a row since 1995.

Peopled by the middle and high income class, the constituency is witnessing a triangular contest among sitting BJP MLA Rakesh Shah, Pandya, fielded by former chief minister Keshubhai Patel, who broke away from the saffron party to float Gujarat Parivartan Party (GPP) months ahead of the polls, and Congress' Kamlesh Shah, though six other candidates are also in the fray.

Haren Pandya, a hugely popular leader, who twice won the seat in 1995 and 1998, was murdered while on a morning walk in 2003 for which his family blamed Modi. The estrangement between the two leaders, according to party insiders, was caused when Modi, after becoming chief minister in 2001, wanted Pandya to vacate Ellis Bridge seat to enable him enter the legislature which the latter refused.

Modi contested from Rajkot and won, but reportedly could not forgive Pandya for his defiance and divested him of the important home portfolio before ensuring he was denied ticket to contest the 2002 Gujarat Assembly elections that were held in the aftermath of the post-Godhra communal riots.

In August last year, the Gujarat High Court acquitted all the 12 accused in the Pandya murder case for want of evidence and castigated the CBI for botching up the investigation.

The CBI's Special Leave Petition against the order is still pending with the Supreme Court.

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