Somnath/ Veraval: On the eve of the first phase of Gujarat Assembly polls, pollsters predict a fifth win for the BJP in the home turf of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and party chief Amit Shah. Though there are reports of a dip in the ruling party's vote-share, the latest survey shows it may improve its tally in the four regions of the state, including the southern and central parts.
Sombhai Patel, a 62- year-old Junagarh tea seller, said, "We will vote for BJP. Though young voters are tilting towards the Hardik-Congress alliance, there is no future." While, there is also a visible anger in the younger sections on job generation, education, increasing corruption, or farmers reeling under the fall in the price of their produce, but they also miss the 12 years when Modi was the chief minister.
Mohammad Haliq, a 25 year- old shopkeeper, said, "Young voters are mainly looking for an alternative to the BJP, because of their arrogance and failure in development which was not the case when Modiji was the chief minister. No work has done in the last more than two years." Further, the majority of people retain faith in the Modi model of development and believe that the state has benefited from significant projects like the Sardar Sarovar dam, which was inaugurated by 'son-of-soil' PM Modi earlier this year.
Interestingly, around 6000-7000 voters of four residential societies in Veraval town of Somanth assembly seat and seven kilometres from the temple will boycott the elections. "Here we can't see any vikas (development). No political parties even intended to do that. Only 40 percent people in this constituency are educated here," Raju Khakkar, a local claimed. The residents of these four societies have also put up a notice board at the gates banning entry of any politician. While the Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi's name in the Somnath temple's non-Hindu visitor book may have kicked up a row, voters here seem more guided by caste considerations. The assembly constituency of twin-town (Somnath and Veraval) has the total of 2, 40,000 voters— Koli (45000), Muslim (38000), Karadiya / Rajput (22000) and Kharwa/ Fishermen (25000).
Kharwas (fishermen) are reportedly cut-up with the incumbent government in the state, as there is no development of local ports. There are 85 fish export companies, and the turnover is nearly Rs 3,000 crore per year.
Apart from the fishery, Somnath and Veraval are also known for the extensive trading in limestone. However, locals claim that syndicates have grown in might. "Politicians of both the parties (Congress and BJP) are involved," they declared. Two villages of Valsad district have decided to boycott elections over no water supply, residents of Saraspur area of Ahmedabad have also threatened to boycott elections over frequent e-challans for the traffic violations. Eleven thousand voters in Dwarka have decided not to cast votes due to the water problem, poor drainage, and inadequate transportation.