Kodnani in jail, new BJP candidate banks on Sindhi votes in Naroda

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Neither the massacre of 2002 nor the recent imprisonment of sitting BJP MLA Maya Kodnani finds a mention in campaigns in Naroda constituency in Ahmedabad. The buzz this time is around Dr Nirmala Wadhvani, a gynaecologist and a Sindhi who has been fielded by the BJP in Naroda, which has been its bastion since 1990.

"When everybody in the constituency is happy with the development that the BJP and Chief Minister Narendra Modi have done in the last one decade, we do not want to touch upon such (riots) issues," said Wadhvani (48).

Naroda is perhaps the only "Sindhi seat" where BJP's Sindhi candidates have repeatedly been elected. Gopaldas Bhojwani won in 1990 and 1995 while Dr Maya Kodnani won in 1998, 2002 and 2007.

"Naroda has around 2.25 lakh voters. Out of this, more than 30 per cent are Sindhi followed by Hindibhashi (Hindi speaking)

from UP and Bihar and then there are nearly 16,000 Patels," says Roshan Golani, municipal councillor from Kubernagar.

Wadhvani even ventures out of the constituency and campaigns in Kalupur cloth market (around 7 km from Naroda Patiya) that is dominated by Sindhi traders.

"It does not matter who the candidate is, till he or she belongs to a party which we support," said Gopichand Bhojwani, a shop owner in Paanchkuan Sindhi market.

When asked whether they still support BJP after conviction of Maya Kodnani, Kailash Kodnani, another shopkeeper, said, "All candidates are good as long as the party is good."

Ajit Maniyal, an executive member of Maharashtra BJP unit who is campaigning for Wadhvani, said they are "not bothered" about Kodnani's conviction. "Rather, we are expecting this will help enhance our votes," he said.

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