Congress could upset BJP's applecart in tribal belt

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Vadodara, Nov 30 (UNI) For the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, its emphatic 13-0 victory against Congress in this politically important district of Gujarat in the post-Godhra 2002 polls, now looks like a dream.

The BJP, which made a clean sweep of all the 13 seats in 2002 for the first time in Vadodara's electoral history following communal polarisation, is finding its bid to retain the seats in the coming elections extremely tough, particularly in the tribal belt of eastern Vadodara.

Sensing the pro-Congress mood of the tribals in the region in the 2004 Lok Sabha elections, the BJP think tank has replaced all its five sitting MLAs of the region, a traditional Congress bastion, with new faces in a bid to win back their confidence.

Admitting that BJP faces tough challenge in the five tribal-dominated constituencies of Chhotaudepur, Jetpur, Nasvadi, Dabhoi and Sankheda, party sources said the problem of the BJP has compounded with the resignation of two MLAs -- Kantibhai Tadvi (Sankheda-st) and Dilubha Chudasama (Vadodara-rural) and growing dissidence activities in the party rank and file over denial of tickets to seven of the 13 sitting MLAs.

Besides, confusion prevails in three western Vadodara constituencies of Vadodara (rural), Padra and Karjan-SC because of the presence of rebel candidates from both the Congress and the BJP.

The most interesting fight will be witnessed in Vadodara (rural) where the intra-party differences in both the BJP and the Congress are in full play. Here, BJP's two-time MLA Dilubha Chudasama and Congress rebels -- Ganpatsingh Solanki and Mangalsinh Gohil -- have posed a great threat to the party's official nominees Upendrasinh Gohil (BJP) and Jayshreeben Gohil (Congress) by entering into the electoral race as independents.

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