Mass agitation to electoral battle: litmus test for BJP rebel

Gujarat elections

As a ruling party MLA, he led a agitation to oust a cement plant but will the rebel against his own party government will the electoral battle that he has jumped into?

Dr Kanubhai Kalsaria, a practising surgeon and three-time BJP MLA from Mahuva in Bhavnagar district, had spearheaded the mass movement in the region against Nirma Cement plant, a rare thing in state considered to be industry- friendly.

Under the banner of 'Sadbhavna Manch', Kalsaria has fielded five of his associates, who were active in the agitation against the cement plant, from different constituencies of Amreli and Bhavnagar districts.

Though Kalsaria has been successful on BJP ticket, the question is will he be able to retain his seat and make his associates win.

"The major challenge ahead of Kalsaria is to convert his support base of anti-Nirma cement plant movement into a vote-bank. Kanubhai definitely is a successful agitator but not a political administrator," says senior political observer Pratap Shah who is based in Bhavnagar.

Kalsaria's Sadbhavna Manch will have to fight a four- cornered battle, the other three contenders come from Congress, BJP and Keshubhai Patel's GPP.

Following denial of ticket by BJP after he fought against his own party government in the Supreme Court in the cement factory case, he is fighting as an Independent on "Sadbhavna Manch" (Harmony Platform). His five associates are also

fighting as Independents.

Interestingly, this time Kalsaria has decided to contest from Gariyadhar seat in Bhavnagar and not from Mahuva where he had won three Assembly elections since 1998 on BJP ticket.

At the height of his agitation against the cement plant, Kanubhai had led a 'padyatra' in which thousands of people had walked from Mahuva to the state capital Gandhinagar in March, 2011.

In this yatra, not only the supporters of Kanubhai but activists and supporters of BJP's Bharatiya Kisan Sangh (BKS), Congress, NGOs working for environment, farmers, salt workers, fishing community too had joined overwhelmingly.

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