Surat’s Varachha sees three-way contest between former BJP colleagues

Varachha, the diamond polishing hub of Surat and known as 'mini-Saurashtra', will see a three-way contest between candidates who were all with the BJP at one point in time and are now fighting each other on a Congress, BJP and Gujarat Parivartan Party (GPP) ticket.

The fight promises to be tough because veteran Dhiru Gajera (Congress) is pitted against Kumar Kanani (BJP), who is seen as his protege. The third candidate is Hirabhai Gangani from GPP.

Gajera was in the BJP around 1985 and joined the Congress some years ago while Gangani had defected to the MahaGujarat Janta Party formed by Gordhan Zadaphia and is now with the GPP as the MJP has been merged into this party led by Keshubhai Patel.

Gajera, a diamond merchant, had earlier won municipal elections when Kanani was BJP ward president. Both belong to Amreli district in Saurashtra.

Gajera had contested assembly elections in 1995, 1998 and 2002 from Surat on BJP tickets and got elected on all three occasions.

His most reliable person and disciple Kanani was his convenor in all three elections.

After Gajera defected to the Congress, Kanani fought municipal elections and went on to become the deputy mayor of Surat.

Speaking to The Sunday Express, Kanai said, "I have worked for long with Dhirubhai. He was my senior leader, but now he has left the party so I am against him. The bond between us was of party and now he is my rival candidate, so I have left aside my feelings and will fight to win. I have learned a lot from him and now the time has come to use all that experience in the field work."

In 2007, Gajera contested the assembly elections from Katargam on a Congress ticket and lost. Two years later, he contested the general elections and lost.

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