Advani faces little resistance in Gandhinagar

Gandhinagar, April 29 (Inditop) The Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) prime ministerial hopeful L.K. Advani is likely to face no hurdles in getting re-elected to the Lok Sabha from here in Gujarat in polling Thursday.

Advani has been elected from the constituency, which includes the state capital as well as parts of Ahmedabad city, four times — 1991, 1998, 1999 and 2004.

His main rivals are Suresh Patel of the Congress, a legislator from Kalol assembly segment, and Mallika Sarabhai, a noted dancer and social activist who is contesting as an independent.

Gandhinagar has been a BJP stronghold since 1989 when Shankarsinh Vaghela won the election. He vacated the seat for Advani in 1991 but he is now a Congress heavyweight and central minister.

In 1996, Advani chose not to contest while facing accusations of receiving Havala payments. Former prime minister Atal Bihri Vajpayee contested from here but gave up the seat since he had won from Lucknow.

The Congress has always found it tough to pick someone who can overcome Advani. Its past candidates have included former Election Commission chief T.N. Seshan and little-known party worker G.M. Thakor.

Suresh Patel, however, may cut into Advani’s winning margin if the Patel community, otherwise known to support the BJP and Chief Minister Narendra Modi, votes for him.

Sarabhai, daughter of space scientist Vikram Sarabhai and artist Mrinalini Sarabhai, has the backing of a large section of civil society. But it remains to be seen if that is enough to defeat Advani.

Although he does not speak Gujarati, Advani is not perceived as an outsider as he has nurtured the constituency with the help of his trusted aides. In recent weeks, his family has set up camp here, canvassing on his behalf as he tours the country for BJP.

Modi’s visible popularity among voters should help Advani.

Delimitation has changed the map of the constituency, taking away the assembly segments of Ellis Bridge, Asarwa and Dariapur, and adding Kalol, Sanand, Ghatlodia, Vejalpur and Naranpura. While Ellis Bridge is a known BJP stronghold, so are Ghatlodia, Vejalpur and Naranpura – so Advani should have a cakewalk.