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Gujarat polls: Tribal seat Pavi Jetpur to see triangular contest with AAP's entry

AAP will eat into the Congress' votes more in the Saurashtra region. In Pavi Jetpur, lack of water and poor roads are among the voters' top concerns. Rashmiben Rathwa (55), who was heading to a BJP rally, pointed out the poor condition of the road leading to her village, Moti Amrol.

PTI Reported By: PTI Published on: December 03, 2022 22:38 IST
Polling in Gujarat is conducted in two phases - one on Dec
Image Source : FILE Polling in Gujarat is conducted in two phases - one on Dec 1 and the other one on Dec 5th.

At an AAP roadshow at Kawant in Gujarat's Chhotaudepur district, 18-year-old Abhay Rathwa listens intently to Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann who is talking about the "Kejriwal model" of development. "Yeh jungle kha gaye, sakool kha gaye (These people have swallowed forests and schools)...," says Mann, who is standing atop an SUV, targeting the BJP government while campaigning for the AAP's candidate from Pavi Jetpur seat.

A young man standing next to Abhay Rathwa asks his friend, "What is sakool?"

"It must mean peace," his friend replies after pondering over the question for a moment and confusing the word with 'sukoon.' Though Mann's message was partially lost in translation, the youngsters are enthused by the Arvind Kejriwal-led Aam Aadmi Party. Abhay Rathwa, a first-time voter who came to the roadshow straight from school with a friend, said he finds Kejriwal "trustworthy." The AAP has fielded Radhika Rathwa from Pavi Jetpur constituency, which goes to polls in the second phase of the Gujarat Assembly elections on December 5. The daughter of late Congress MP Amarsinh Rathwa, Radhika joined the AAP just before the elections were announced.

She is pitted against three other Rathwas -- sitting Congress MLA Sukhram Rathwa, BJP's Jayantbhai Rathwa and Bharatiya Tribal Party's Namalbhai Rathwa. Sukhram Rathwa said though the AAP will eat into his votes, it will not do any significant damage. "They will eat into the votes of both the Congress and the BJP and might get 7,000-8,000 votes. But I have nothing to fear," Sukhram Rathwa told PTI.

He, however, said the AAP will eat into the Congress' votes more in the Saurashtra region. In Pavi Jetpur, lack of water and poor roads are among the voters' top concerns. Rashmiben Rathwa (55), who was heading to a BJP rally, pointed out the poor condition of the road leading to her village, Moti Amrol. The road was laid six years ago and it gets cut off during rains as a causeway over a stream goes underwater, she said.
"There is a tap but it has no water," she added.

Pravinbhai Rathwa (26), who owns a grocery shop in Kanalwa village, said his wife and grandmother fetch water from a hand pump 200 metres away from their house. Irrigation is also a problem, he said. Kamlesh Maheshwari (50), who runs a grocery shop owner in the main market in Kawant, complained about the Goods and Services Tax. "This is a tribal belt. So the impact of even a slight change in prices is felt here," he said.
Congress candidate Sukhram Rathwa admitted that water supply is a problem in the area.

The Congress-led UPA government had sanctioned projects worth over Rs 800 crore to address the issue but the work is yet to be completed, he said.
He said there are 235 villages in his constituency where the roads are in bad shape, and health and education infrastructure is also inadequate.
The BJP's Jayantbhai Rathwa said health and education facilities in the constituency need to be improved. He said if he is elected, he will try to build more primary, secondary and "science" schools. 

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