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Chikhalia seeks a fifth term


Harshida Pandya  |  Junagadh 

When people of say votes for Bhavna Chikhalia will come in trains, there is truth in it.
Chikhalia, the Union minister of state for tourism and cultural affairs, was instrumental in getting the much-awaited Veraval-Rajkot gauge conversion work done during her last two terms in the parliament.
Now when she approaches the voters of her 6-parliamentary constituency seeking a mandate for the fifth consecutive term, the candidate will highlight her achievements such as the elevation of into a municipal corporation, giving the city a facelift, rapid progress of civic amenities works, Girnar ropeway project and the development of the Somnath pilgrim centre at a cost of Rs five crore. Main opposition is yet to finalise its candidate for this constituency.
Chikhalia joined politics in 1998 and contested from the Maliya assembly seat on a Janata Dal (G) ticket, but lost to Devanand Solanki.
In 1991, Savji Korat brought her into the and in the general that year, she contested for the first time from the Junagadh Lok Sabha constituency and won.
From then, she never had to look back. She won from the constituency in 1996, 1998 and 1999 general The Junagardh Lok Sabha seat was a stronghold of until 1984.
Mohanbhai Patel was elected during the 1980 and 1984 elections, securing 48.52 and 52.70 per cent of the valid votes polled.
Then the seat went to Janta Dal (VP) as part of an alliance deal and in 1989 elections, Govindbhai Sekhada of JD (VP) defeated Mohanbhai Patel of by a huge margin.
Shekhda got 60.62 per cent votes and sitting MP Mohanbhai Patel got only 36.45 per cent.
After the political equations changed at the Centre, Bhavna Chikhalia defeated Govinbhai Sekhda, securing 44.87 per cent of votes polled, in 1991 Lok Sabha polls.
Shekhda could get only 26.90 per cent of the votes polled. In 1996, she defeated Govindbhai Shekhda of Congress with a huge margin, securing 61.42 per cent of the valid votes polled. Shekhda could manage only 28.50 per cent of the votes.
Congress tried Jethalal Jora in 1998 Lok Sabha but Chikhalia emerged victorious, securing 53.46 per cent of the valid votes polled. Jora could get only 38.31 per cent of the votes.
In the last Lok Sabha election, Congress nominated a powerful candidate, Pethalji Chavda, but despite having a firm hold in many social and educational institutions, Patheljibhai could not stop Chikhalia's victory run.
As a state minister for tourism in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government, she has put major efforts to develop tourism in her constituency. The 6-Junagadh parliamentary constituency comprises seven assembly segments "" Kesod, Talala, Somnath, Una, Visavadar, Malia and Junagadh.
Out of the seven segements, has five seats, while Somnath, Malia and Una are Congress seats. In a bid to wrest the seat from BJP, Congress had tried every combination in the past, but so far they have not been able to make sufficient inroads into the constituency, a stronghold of former chief minister Keshubhai Patel.

First Published: Mon, March 22 2004. 00:00 IST