Winning Anand after 25 years, can Congress milk a victory and do an encore?

PTI, Nov 26, 2022, 11:25 AM IST

Representative Image (Source: PTI)

Anand: Winning the Anand Assembly seat in 2017 after 25 years, can the Congress milk a victory and do an encore in what is mainly seen as a two-way fight with the BJP, which is banking on its good showing in the civic polls to continue?

Congress’s Kanti Sodaparmar, the sitting MLA who had won the seat for his party in 2017 by a margin of little over 5,000 votes, says he is confident of a repeat victory by a bigger margin.

Anand figures in the second phase of polling in Gujarat on December 5.

Political observers believe there will be a direct fight between Sodaparmar and Yogesh Patel of the BJP this time, as the Aam Aadmi Party(AAP), which has fielded Girish Shandilya, apparently does not have much support in the area.

As many as 15 candidates are in the fray in Anand, which is known as the milk capital of the country. Anand city is home to the famous Amul brand of dairy products that is owned by the Gujarat Milk Marketing Cooperative Federation.

Anand city is one of the seven Assembly constituencies in Anand district, of which the Congress had won five in 2017. There are a total of 3,13,857 voters in the constituency: 1,59,122 men, 1,54,730 women and five transgenders. Kshatriyas are the dominant caste in the region.

”Before 2017, I lost narrowly three times. But after becoming MLA I have worked for the people. This time I will win by 25,000 votes,” Sodaparmar said. The BJP government has given nothing but inflation, unemployment and corruption to the people, he alleged.

Senior Congress leader Bharatsinh Solanki told PTI that his party was working to minimise the damage that the AAP may cause.

He said the Congress hopes to sweep all the seven seats in Anand district this time. ”We had lost in Umreth and Khambath in 2017. This time we have given tickets to the NCP in Umreth and in Khambath. We also have fielded Chirag Patel, a young and well-known Patidar leader,” he told PTI.

Local BJP leaders claim that the party lost seats in Anand district last time due to the Patidar quota agitation, which is no longer a factor.

”We have identified the causes of our defeat and taken corrective steps. Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed a massive rally in Vidyanagar before the election dates were announced, and Chief Minister Bhupendra Patel accompanied Yogesh Patel when he filed his nomination. This shows how seriously the BJP takes Anand,” said a local leader of the ruling party.

Yogesh Patel, the BJP nominee, told PTI that the party’s performance was affected by social agitations in 2017, but the situation is different in 2022.

”The development schemes implemented by PM Narendra Modi and CM Bhupendra Patel and his predecessors have reached every home. The voters feel there is no alternative to the BJP. People say if there is price rise, their incomes have also risen, so that is not an issue,” he said.

Since 2017, Patel said, the BJP won 36 of 52 seats in Anand municipality, 18 of 28 seats in Karamsand and all 24 seats in Vidyanagar. In rural areas, seven out of 11 taluka panchayats and both the Zilla panchayats are with the BJP, he pointed out.

Lalji Pansuriya, a local BJP leader, said Anand is a significant constituency because Karamsand is the hometown of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel. The constituency does not lack amenities and infrastructure in any way, he claimed.

A majority of residents of Anand have someone in the family living abroad, Pansuriya said. ”What is important is that they may be the citizens of their adopted country, but they invest all their wealth in their native place,” he added.

”The youth of Gujarat have never seen a Congress rule. We are focussing on unemployment and the privatisation of education under the BJP, and our message is finding traction among them,” said Mahesh Solanki, a Congress worker.

Anand Assembly constituency consists of the municipalities of Anand, Karamsand and Vidyanagar besides 14 villages. Five of these villages border Anand city and have turned into semi-urban centres. Private universities like Bhikabai Medical University, Charusat University and CVM University besides the government-run Agriculture University and Sardar Patel University are located in Anand.

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