In Ahmed Patel’s pocket borough, some question development narrative
Ajay Singh | November 3, 2012
Gujarat offers many surprises. One of them is a little Bihar, not far from the Narmada river in central Gujarat. It’s called Netrang, 40 km from Bharuch. Like so many other rural regions in the state, two state highways pass through it. It is also one of the nine new talukas chief minister Narendra Modi has proposed to create.
As one gets down at the Bharuch railway station, travels south and arrives in Netrang, the first thing one notices is the demographic composition, which is quite different from the rest of the state. Pockets dominated by Muslims and tribals form a visible pattern. Significantly, this area is considered to be the pocket borough of Ahmed Patel, political adviser to Congress president Sonia Gandhi.
Travel to Modi land: why middle class banks on his win
As D-day inches closer, Gujarat CM goes for the jugular
In fact, this unique demographic composition has spawned a politics which has an uncanny similarity with Bihar. The Janata Dal (United), the ruling party of Bihar, dominates here. It is certainly not a measure of Nitish kumar's popularity. Far from it, JD (U) is here identified with a tribal chieftain, Chhotu Vasava, a muscleman with a formidable track record – as much of winning assembly elections as of figuring in crime records. Chhotu Vasava and his son Mahesh Vasava are accused of running an extortion racket. In Netrang, developed as an industrial zone, the Vasavas' acts of indiscretions are talk of the town. But the Vasavas remain unfazed as they get patronage from the BJP leadership.
While the Vasava fiefdom extends to the Jhagadia assembly constituency and stands out as his own republic, residents of Netrang, largely Muslims, describe Gujarat’s development narrative as a fiction produced under a grand marketing strategy. Ayub Pathan, son of a petrol pump owner called Quasim Bhai, questions development claims. For instance, he points out that Netrang's primary health centre has been functioning without a doctor or even paramedics. "Since the locality is at the intersection of two highways, fatal accidents are not uncommon here. So, often, post-mortem needs to be done," he says, but the bodies of victims lay unattended for hours on end in the absence of a sweeper and a doctor. "You have to pay through your nose to get it done," he adds.
Pathan and his father are known here as acolytes of Ahmed Patel. Hence there are reasons to take their version as a statement prejudiced by their own politics. Nevertheless, it is indicative of the fact that development of Gujarat is not universally accepted in the ongoing political discourse. However, Pathan, 37, unhesitatingly admits that the Congress does not have an option in Gujarat. "They (the state leaders of the Congress) seem to be caught in intense factional feuds and are no match to Modi's skills and stature." Then he inadvertently lets the cat out of the bag by confirming existence of rumours about bonhomie between Ahmed Patel and Modi. "There is a rumour about an unwritten pact between Patel and Modi. While Patel wants to rule Delhi, he is not interested in upsetting Modi in Gujarat." The rumour, despite its doubtful veracity, reveals possible political equations in the state.
On February 1, finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced the Union Budget. As Dr. Rajiv Kumar, the Pahle India Foundation chairman and former NITI Aayog vice chairman, succinctly summed up, “Budget 2023 is a consolidation of the gains over the years, and a positive step towards sustained economic
The Indian Metropolis: Deconstructing India’s Urban Spaces By Feroze Varun Gandhi Rupa, 840 pages, Rs 1,500 Feroze Varun Gandhi, a Member of Parliament from the BJP, has been a published poet. He is also a policy expert – he had published &
On mission mode, Indian Railways` Freight loading for first ten months of this financial year 2022-23 has crossed last year’s loading and earnings for the same month. On cumulative basis from April 2022 to January 2023, freight loading of 1243.46 MT was achieved against last year&rsquo
Mumbai’s municipal commissioner and administrator Iqbal Singh Chahal on Saturday announced a Budget of Rs 52,619.07 crore for 2023-2024, an increase of 20.67% over a revised budget estimate of Rs 43607.10 crore for 2022-23. The overall budget size has doubled in five years. In 2017-18
Imprints of the Populist Time By Ranabir Samaddar Orient BlackSwan, 352 pages, Rs. 1105 The crisis of liberal democracy in the neoliberal world—marked by massive l
Union minister of finance and corporate affairs Nirmala Sitharaman presented the Union Budget 2023-24 in Parliament on Wednesday. The highlights of the Budget are as follows: PART A Per capita income has more than doubled to Rs 1.97 lakh in around