Rajkot: It’s said that the road to Ahmedabad passes through Saurashtra which sends 52 MLAs to the Gujarat Assembly. This time, Chief Minister Narendra Modi is facing tough fight from disgruntled faction of the RSS and VHP in the politically important Saurashtra region.

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Former Chief Minister and one of the founders of BJP in the state, Keshubhai Patel is fighting his last political battle in the state challenging Narendra Modi. The octogenarian leader enjoys supports of angry VHP and RSS leaders.

Firebrand VHP leader Praveen Togadia’s several supporters are contesting on Keshubhai’s Gujarat Parivartan Party tickets. Keshubhai represents influential Leova Patel community.

Congress also sees ray of hope in Keshubhai’s slogan ‘to change Gujarat’. Congress failed to return to power in Gujarat on its own since 1985 as the grand old party lost the support of Leova Patel in Saurashtara.  However, Congress stalwarts Chimanbhai Patel and Shankar Singh Baghela formed the government by hook or by crook.

Leova Patel voters have been instrumental in Modi’s thumping victory in Saurashtra in 2002 and 2007 when BJP got 37 and 38 seats respectively, while Congress registered victory only on 13 seats. Now, this time the Congress is eyeing on Leova Patel voters. The Congress managers think that party will perform well as the GJP will damage the BJP votebank.

It’s million dollar question if Keshubhai factor will create a new equation in the Gujarat politics. The GPP has fielded most of the VHP leaders including Lalit Suhagia and Ghanshyam Itadia for the assembly polls.

JPN/Prashant Mishra

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