Shweta Bhatt, Jagruti Pandya showed courage to take on BJP big guns
In the rough and tumble of fiercely-contested Gujarat Assembly elections, two women showed the courage to take on their mighty opponents including Narendra Modi. Though they lost the mandate their conviction stirred a sizable population of cosmopolitan Ahmedabad city.
While Shweta, wife of suspended IPS officer Sanjiv Bhatt who is fighting a legal battle against the BJP stalwart, dared to take on Modi who is in a spectacular form, slain BJP minister Haren Pandya's wife Jagruti threw her hat in the ring on the plank of seeking justice for her late husband.
Shweta Bhatt contested on Congress ticket against Modi from Maninanagar constituency. Though it was a forgone conclusion about the outcome of this one-sided contest, Bhatt put up a brave campaign with the support of not only the Congress party apparatus but many secular and women NGOs who stood behind her when Sanjiv Bhatt was arrested.
When results were declared, Modi polled 1,20,470 votes comfortably pocketing the seat with a huge margin of 86,373 votes.
Jagruti Pandya, who had jumped into the fray from Ellisbridge seat as the candidate of newly-formed Gujarat Parivartan Party (GPP), finished third in the contest securing 9,075 votes.
The seat was won by Rakesh Shah of BJP who polled 1,06,631 votes while his Congress rival Kamleshkumar Shah stood distant second with 29,959 votes.
Jagruti had expected that her emotional appeal will triumph over the cold logic that favours her saffron rival.
As novices Jagruti Pandya and Shweta Bhatt stood little chance against their well-heeled rivals, however, BJP rebel Dr Kanubhai Kalsaria, who contested the polls along with his four colleagues under the banner of 'Sadbhavna Manch', barely clocked 10,963 votes from Gariadhar constituency in Bhavnagar. He went down to BJP candidate Keshubhai Nakrani.
Only 16 out of 91 women who contested the elections held in two phases for 181 seats have emerged victorious.