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Guj LS poll: Farm distress could hurt BJP in Surendranagar

Press Trust of India  |  Surendranagar 

Farm distress might prove costly for the BJP in Gujarat's Lok Sabha seat, three-fourth of which is rural, though the ruling party says work by the government and the Centre will hold it in good stead.

Sveral farmers in the region said the Centre and the had done nothing to alleviate farm issues caused by the prevailing drought, a sentiment the Congress, which did very well from the here in the 2017 Assembly polls, wants to encash.

"We paid Rs 5,000 as premium for coverage, and all we got was Rs 6,000 after our crop failed. Forget doubling our income, this government has taken away our money," said Hasmukh Patel, a from Lakhtar near

Patel said he voted for the in 2017 Assembly elections, when the Patidar reservation agitation mobilised the community against the ruling BJP, and would do so again as the government had failed to deliver on its poll promises to farmers.

"Cotton is the main crop, and its MSP remains well below Rs 1000-mark, despite himself having promised to take it to Rs 1,500 by creating a textile hub here," pointed out Rohit Patel, of the district

"Production cost has gone up manifold, while selling price remains stagnant with a majority of ginning mills having shut down in recent years," he added.

He claimed remains the more immediate issue affecting farmers and is at the centre of farmers' anger towards the ruling BJP.

The BJP, meanwhile, claimed reports of rural distress in the region were exaggerated, and several measures had been taken to address them.

"Farmers have done well and the crop was good. The government has ensured people get Narmada dam water. The Dholi Dhaja Dam (across near Surendranagar) is full. So we do not believe this (farm distress) will make an impact," claimed.

The BJP has fielded poll debutant Mahendra Munjpara (50), a doctor, who is pitted against the Congress' Somabhai Patel, who has studied upto Class V, but has won several poll battles in the area.

Patel, a sitting MLA, has won three Assembly and two Lok Sabha polls, including as BJP candidate from in 2004.

He joined the and contested successfully in the 2009 Lok Sabha polls before being defeated by BJP's Devji Fatepara in 2014.

Fatepara was not given a ticket by the BJP this time and it could suffer due to the factionalism that the move has brought about, said observers.

Fatepara had expressed his displeasure publicly but has since kept a low profile.

"None of this (factionalism and displeasure) is a problem. Fatepara is no longer unhappy. Things are settled. Candidature of Munjpara will get the BJP the votes of the youth as well, since they like educated politicians," Gandhi said.

Munjpara is also known to charge his patients just a nominal fee which could help him in the poll battle.

In the 2017 Assembly elections, the Congress won six out of the seven Assembly seats that comprise Surendranagar Lok Sabha constituency.

BJP managed to win only Wadhwan, which is considered an urban pocket, down from the six it had won in the 2012 state polls.

While the Patidar quota stir, led by Hardik Patel, is no longer visible in this region, he remains a factor to reckon with.

This is because the region is dominated by Patidars and Koli, both of which are mostly engaged in farming activities.

All 26 seats in the state go to polls on April 23.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Sat, April 13 2019. 22:05 IST