Constituency Watch: BJP, Congress and Kshatriya community in showdown at Gujarat’s Surendranagar

Surendranagar (Gujarat): In the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections, the BJP and the Congress are expected to be in a face-off. The BJP has nominated Chandubhai Shihora, a community leader.

Shihora, a civil engineer and former president of the Morbi district panchayat and ex-vice president of the Morbi district BJP, hails from Halvad taluka of Morbi district. He is a prominent figure within the Chuvaliya Koli community, known for his involvement in community-oriented events like mass weddings and student felicitation functions. This nomination marks a shift as the party has chosen not to field the current Lok Sabha MP, Dr. Mahendra Munjapara, who also belongs to the same community.

On the opposition front, the Congress has positioned Rutvik Lavjibhai Makwana, a current Member of the Legislative Assembly from Chotila constituency, to strengthen its campaign. Makwana, also from the Koli caste, has been a vocal critic of the BJP, evidenced by his arrest in March 2021 during a tractor rally against Prime Minister Narendra Modi. His political activism includes his role as the chief organizer of the ‘Gujarat Pradesh Seva Dal’, appointed by Rahul Gandhi in 2018.

Amidst this political contest, a strong campaign titled ‘Kshatriya Asmita Dharmarath’ was launched on April 23. This three-day campaign to mobilize against the BJP traversed over 30 villages in Surendranagar district. Spearheaded by community leaders and supported by a newly formed committee of young Kshatriyas, this initiative aims to influence booth-level voting patterns across the district. The rising activism within the Kshatriya community against the BJP has heightened tensions and stakes in the region, setting the stage for a fiercely contested election.

Surendranagar is a significant economic hub in Gujarat, with thriving chemical, textile, cotton, and plastic industries. This city holds considerable political importance due to the influence of the Koli community. Historically, Somabhai Patel has been a prominent figure, winning elections from both the Congress and BJP parties.

The Surendranagar Lok Sabha constituency encompasses several assembly seats: Viramgam, Limbdi, Dhrangadhra, Dhandhuka, Wadhwan, Dhasa, and Chotila, with the Dhasa seat being reserved for the SC category.

The first parliamentary election in this region was held in 1962 and was won by a Congress candidate. The constituency has seen various political shifts, including victories by the Swatantra Party. Somabhai Patel won the seat in 1989 as a BJP candidate, defeating the Congress candidate, and repeated his success in 1991.

However, in 1996, he lost to Sanat Mehta of the Congress. After a hiatus during the 1998 and 1999 elections, he returned to contest in 2004 on a BJP ticket. In recent elections, Mahendra Munjapara from the BJP won in 2019 with a significant margin, while in 2014, Devji Bhai of the BJP secured the seat with 56.0% of the votes, with Somabhai Patel from the Congress trailing with 34.5%.


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