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Nano home drives out BJP

Ahmedabad, Dec. 20: Sanand, the new home of the Nano after it moved out of Bengal, has rejected Narendra Modi’s “development model”.

Sitting BJP MLA Kamabhai Rathod has lost by a margin of 4,400 votes to his Congress rival Kamsibhai Koli in this new constituency that was carved out when seat maps were redrawn a few years ago.

A social worker said one reason for the defeat of the

BJP candidate was that no local resident had found employment in the Nano plant, which the Tatas had shifted to Sanand from Singur following land protests in Bengal.

The few from the seven adjoining villages who have got jobs in the plant have been hired by contractors as causal workers. This means there is no job security, a reason for resentment among villagers, said Bahdur Majithia, a social worker based in Sanand.

Denied regular jobs in the plant, something they had been promised when their land was acquired for the small car factory, the residents rejected Kamabhai’s efforts to sell Modi’s “development mantra”.

Sources said other factors that may have worked in favour of the Congress candidate were the dominance of his Koli community, the party’s “Ghar nu ghar” (dream home) campaign and the “outsider tag” on the BJP nominee, a resident of Viramgam, a bustling town about 40km from Sanand.

Before delimitation, which came into effect in 2008, Sanand was part of the Viramgam Assembly constituency. Kamabhai, a builder and prominent land broker, had been elected from Viramgam in 2007.

After the constituency was split, Sanand was carved out by incorporating two tehsils — Bavla and Sanand.

Soon, the sitting MLA came to be seen as an “outsider who had been imposed on them”, said a local resident.

On the other hand, the Congress candidate, a farmer and local resident of Sanand, was seen as more accessible. Besides, he was from the right community — Koli — a dominant caste which eventually played a key role in ensuring his victory.

Another reason Kamabhai’s campaign — that a vote for him would speed up development in the region — didn’t work was that residents were also unhappy with the influx of “outsiders” employed in the nearby Gujarat Industrial Development Corporation.

The presence of these “outsiders”, who live in Sanand and its surrounding villages, was seen as an uncalled-for cultural assault.

The talk of development only further irritated the residents, who turned out in huge numbers when Rahul Gandhi addressed an election meeting at Sanand during the second phase of the campaign.

Only two years ago, however, the BJP had got a brute majority in the Sanand municipality, winning 24 out of 27 seats.