Team Jan Ki Baat has been travelling across the all-important Surat district, the hub of South Gujarat. Having already been to the influential Heera Bazar, Jan Ki Baat founding partner Akriti Bhatia, along with reporter Anirudh covered Limbayat and spoke to a lot of women during an ongoing door to door campaign of the Congress Party. Anirudh had already spent a lot of time in Limbayat trying to decode the pulse in this region. Before we move on, let’s look at some important electoral facts about the town.
Date of Election: 09-12-17
Phase – 1
Number of Registered Voters: 259898
Sitting MLA: Sangitaben Patil (BJP)
Candidates for Limbayat: Sangitaben Patil (BJP) and Ravindrabhai Patil (INC). To see the full list of candidates, click here.
As Anirudh said, Sangitaben is fighting from Limbayat for the second consecutive time and Ravindra Patil has defected to the Congress Party from BJP as he was not offered the candidature for this seat by the latter. “Having covered various areas of this town, many important facts come to light. For example, Maratha voters are very high in number”
After interacting with a bunch of enthusiastic kids we talked to Shardul Samrat from Uttar Pradesh, who talked about the prospects of Ravindra Patil and the dissatisfaction with Sangitaben Patil. He said, “She has not done anything extraordinary in the last five years. The poor have suffered owing to the price rise of Gas cylinders. There is a problem of clean water and electricity. Our candidate, Ravindra Patil has been treated very badly by the BJP and thus, joined the Congress.”
Next, we spoke to a women karyakartas from the Congress Party who seemed to converge on the issue of safety of women or lack thereof. One of them said, “Women are not safe while walking during the night and there are atrocities against them. There are illegal dens to sell liquor in this locality.”
Other issues raised by the women of this constituencies were the delay in the construction of the railway bridge which led to many deaths. One of them said, “We don’t even know if she is our MLA. She hardly visits the constituency. We found out that she’s her MLA when she came because of elections.”
Next, Akriti and Anirudh spoke to an elderly woman alongside a companion about the key issues. Unlike others, both of them were satisfied with the incumbent administration. “We have no problems”, one of them said.
Next, we talked to a Textile worker who was unhappy with the wages she was earning. When asked about political leaders, she said, “Narendra Modi is doing a good work. I don’t know about the local leaders.”
Before going back to the rally, Anirudh and Akriti discussed how the kids in the area were taught to say the name of Congress if someone asked. They also discussed how they started talking about BJP as soon as the cameras moved away. Next up for talking with us was Lalita Barke. She said,”Sadke, Bijli, aur Paani are all good.”
Akriti was particularly impressed with the awareness amongst kids in this area. Talking to one such kid, he said, “Sangitaben has worked well and is constructing roads all across the town.” Akriti was delighted that this young and aware citizen gave us an insight, unlike some elders.
Next, Anirudh spoke to a middle-aged voter. He said, “Sangita ben was done a decent job. It is difficult to predict what the crowd will do. No one expected Narendra Modi to win with such a majority.”
While walking towards the rally, our team talked to a few BJP karyakartas. One of them said, “he had some issues with the party. He was a corporator since 20 years from the BJP. Limbayat didn’t have roads to walk on. BJP has constructed roads for the populace. We are fighting these elections on one issue: Vikaas. BJP will win as it resides in the hearts of the voters.”
Anirudh and Akriti discussed how even kids in this area were aware of vikaas and how some females disagreed with the issues raised by Congress karyakartas earlier. Anirudh then presented some facts he learned during his on ground analysis. “There is a lot of communal harmony in this area. There are a few caste equations as well. Maratha voters are in a large number in this area so there will be an aim to divide that vote.”
Towards the end, Anirudh said, “BJP has, in fact, worked. During my analysis, I didn’t hear any complaints about lack of women safety.” Akriti further concluded, “It is the BJP that seems to have the support in Limbayat. Ravindra Patil is also a popular figure in this region so only time will tell who wins. As seen in Limbayat, Jan Ki Baat is the sole platform that connects you with the neta and the janta.”