Multi-corner battle in Daman & Diu (Poll curtainraiser – 2 union territories)

Daman/Silvassa, April 29 (Inditop) Daman & Diu is a Lok Sabha constituency of two coastal enclaves separated by a 763-km coastline that is in Gujarat. As the union territory goes to the polls Thursday, politics here mirrors that of Gujarat, where the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Congress are in a two-horse race.

Daman’s neighbouring union territory Dadra & Nagar Haveli also votes Thursday.

There are a dozen candidates contesting for the two Lok Sabha seats of the two union territories.

Daman & Diu will witness a keen battle between Congress’ sitting MP Dahyabhai Patel and BJP’s Lalubhai Babubhai Patel.

Dahyabhai had won only by 607 votes against BJP’s Gopal Tandel in 2004. But party sources say Dahyabhai has a slight edge over his rival. The BJP decided not to field Tandel this time which has agitated his supporters.

Daman & Diu has 95,300 voters being wooed by seven candidates, including one each of the Congress, BJP, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and Samajwadi Party and three independents.

Authorities are setting up 94 polling stations.

The two coastal towns along the Arabian Sea were part of a single union territory of Daman, Diu and Goa till Goa attained statehood in 1987.

From Daman, the administrative headquarter, Goa is almost the same distance as Diu.

Daman and Diu towns were a Portuguese enclave for nearly five centuries till 1961. Both are popular tourist destinations.

Dadra and Nagar Haveli is adjacent to Daman on the south Gujarat coast.

There are five contestants in fray for Dadra and Nagar Haveli, a seat reserved for a Scheduled Tribe candidate. The Election Commission has set up 161 polling stations for over 154,000 eligible voters.

The buzz at the union territory capital Silvassa is that the Congress has got a fillip with six-time sitting MP Mohan Delkar from Bharatiya Navshakti Party (BNP), an outfit he himself had started, joining it in February. He is the Congress nominee.

Delkar, who was the youngest MP at 27 when he was first elected in 1989, once fought on a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) ticket but otherwise was always an independent.

A powerful trade union leader, who rose fighting for the tribals working in sugarcane and other factories in the region, Delkar is believed to be the favourite for a seventh win. In 2004, he had defeated his nearest rival Sitaram Gavli of the Congress by nearly 13,000 votes.

This time, Delkar is pitted against BJP’s Natubhai Gomanbhai Patel, while there is a Bahujan Samaj Party candidate and two independents also in the fray.