Gujarat polls 2012: Defeat of Fakir Vaghela mars BJP's surge in dalit bastions
Ahmedabad: If results of Gujarat Assembly polls an indicator, dalits and tribals in the state remained stuck to their party preferences.
However, defeat of outgoing Modi cabinet's dalit face Fakir Vaghela is viewed as a warning to ruling BJP that the community can not be taken for granted.
Vaghela lost to Manibhai Vaghela of Congress from Vadgam seat.
This was the first assembly election post new delimitation order of 2006, where 40 out of total 182 seats were reserved for SC (13) and ST (27) candidates respectively.
Out of total 13 SC seats, BJP won 10 seats and Congress 3. Keeping in mind the change delimitation caused to contours of constituencies, both the parties have retained their respective positions compared to previous polls.
Just at the time when parties were gearing them up for electioneering, two incidents, one in Rajkot and another at Thangadh in Surendranagar district, shook dalit community in the state.
In Thangadh, three dalit youths were killed allegedly in police firing in which police reportedly used AK-47s against protesters.
In Rajkot district, out of 11 seats, Rajkot (Rural) an SC seat was won by BJP's Bhanuben Babaria with impressive margin of 57,753 votes.
Similarly, in Surendranagar district which was epicentre of dalit anger a few months back, BJP improved its tally to 4 from 3 seats in last elections while Congress could capture only one out of five seats up for grabs in the district.
A cursory look at the Assembly elections results vis-a-vis SC seats gives impression that incidents of Rajkot and Thangadh have not adversely impacted the prospects of ruling BJP, however, a dalit leader dismissed this perception.
"Though BJP got one more seat in this district it does not mean that Thangadh firing incident has no impact," claims Dalit Heet Rakshak Manch convener Raju Solanki.
"BJP has lost its Limbadi seat where its candidate Kiritsinh Rana has lost to Congress MP Somabhai Patel," he pointed out.
"Of course, clear polarisation of dalits toward BJP is intact during these elections too, but they have also given a warning to BJP," he summarised.