It is a fight for political survival between the two Mer (community) leaders in the Porbandar constituency. BJP candidate Babubhai Bokhiria has contested elections five times and got elected four times, whereas Congress leader Arjun Modhawadia contested four times and got elected twice in the Gujarat assembly elections.
Porbandar is birth place of Mahatma Gandhi, but in the eighties it was more known for lawlessness, gang war between Mers. It was also a landing point for smuggled goods from the Middle East.
Bharatiya Janata Party for the first time fielded Babubhai Bokhiria in 1995, since then he has contested six elections – winning in 1995, 1998, 2007, 2012, – losing in 2017 and in 2002. Whereas Arjun Modhwadia for the first time fought elections in 2002, 2007, 2012, and 2017 – winning in 2002 and 2007.
Porbandar constituency has total 2,64,000 electorate – 74071 voters are of Mers, Brahmins 34991 voters, Kharva (Fishing community) 26,304, Lohanas 15370, Dalits 16,117, Muslims 14879 and Thakor Koli 9115 voters.
Bokhiria told IANS “My campaign is driven by the development work done by the ruling party, party holds strong position in the constituency because it is in power in all local bodies, in Nagar Palika, it has 45 elected members out of 52, in the Porbandar District Panchayat 16 elected members out of 18, party members control cooperatives societies, its members are still committed to the party and its development path.”
On the other hand, Arjun Modhwadia said that this time he is confident of doing better than 2017, as people across the society are tired with inflation, unemployment, corrupt practices by the ruling party, poor infrastructure in the district, etc.
He claims, “Out of 12 mega industrial units, 10 are closed, so locals have lost their jobs, majority units in the three Gujarat Industrial Development Corporation (GIDC) are closed down, the illegal mining by ruling party members has increased in the agricultural area. People are looking for a change in power.”
Modhwadia vs Bokhiriya is going to be a tough and close contest and the result can go either way, said senior journalist Hitesh Thakrar from Porbandar.
In the 2017 elections, Modhwadia lost to Bokhiria by a margin of just 1855 votes, because BSP candidates grabbed 4337 votes and 3433 voted for NOTA.
Bokhiriya had won 2012 elections with 11.74 per cent vote margin, which was almost covered by Modhwadia in 2017.
Porbandar constituency is set to vote on December 1 and counting will be held on December 8.