Modi makes Somnath a district, splits Keshubhai fort


With Assembly elections round the corner, Chief Minister Narendra Modi on Monday made the much-awaited announcement of declaring Somnath as the 27th district in Gujarat, brining cheers to people in the six talukas to be carved out from the total 14 in Junagadh district.

The new district will be called Gir Somnath and will come into being on January 26.

Modi made the announcement at a function at Veraval.

For residents of remote coastal talukas of Veraval, Sutrapada, Talala, Una, Kodinar and Gir Gadhada (new taluka), it will mean administrative offices nearer to their homes than they were in the present district headquarters in Junagadh city.

Politically, however, it will split the bastion of Modi's bete noire Keshubhai Patel in two halves.

Rebel activity by Patel, who recently floated new party Gujarat Parivartan Party, largely focused around his former constituency of Visavadar and nearby places like Bhesan and Talala. The last one will be part of the new district, which is sure to bring cheers to voters there.

Keshubhai, who is also the chairman of Somanth Trust, the body that manages famous Somanth Temple, can also claim emotional connection with the place given the development it has seen in recent times.

Junagadh has a significant population of Levua Patels, the community to which Keshubhai belongs.

Unlike neighbouring districts of Rajkot, Jamnagar and Amreli where BJP can claim an edge, Junagadh, where Congress has also made its presence felt, had never been a cakewalk for the BJP. Seats like Una, Manavadar, Kodinar and Somnath have not remained loyal to any party in recent times. At present, Talala is represented by Congress MLA.

"Offices of departments in the new district will be at Veraval and Somnath. The new district will start functioning from January 26," said Modi from platform of Saagarkhedu Samelan.

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