Gujarati daily editor Aziz Tankarvi giving tough fight to BJP on Bharuch LS seat

By Correspondent,

Ahmedabad: The 64-year-old Aziz Tankarvi, who worked as editor of a Gujarati daily Gujarat Today for about 19 years since its launch in 1991 till a month ago, is now trying his luck in politics.

Gujarat Today is the only newspaper run by a Muslim trust – Lokhit Prakashan Sarvajanik Trust. Tankarvi is a founder member of the trust and still continues to be its member even after he resigned from editorship a month ago to contest polls.

Contesting from Bharuch Lok Sabha seat on Congress ticket, Tankarvi hailing from the dominant Patel community, is fighting to wrest the seat from BJP which has been winning it since 1991.

Earlier, Ahmed Patel, political advisor to Sonia Gandhi, had been elected from Bharuch thrice. The Congress had been losing this seat despite Muslims accounting for about 22 per cent of the electorates owing to extreme polarization due to Sangh Parivar’s sustained anti-Muslim campaign in the constituency to neutralize Muslim voters and ensure that a Muslim never get elected from this seat.

The polarization benefited the BJP because of direct fight between BJP and Congress, with no other party contesting the polls. However, with a multi-cornered contest in Bharuch this time seems to be working against BJP as tribals and Kshatriya votes getting divided due to two tribal candidates – one from BJP and another from JD(United) and a Kshatriya candidate from Samajwadi Party – contesting the polls.

Though BJP’s Mansukh Vasava had won the seat twice – in 1999and 2004 – defeating Congress candidates Amarsinh Vasava and Mohammed Fansiwala by a margin of over 51,000 and 71,000 votes respectively, JD(U) fielding Chhotu Vasava from the seat may play spoilsport for BJP by splitting tribals votes. Both Mansukh and Chhotubhai are tribals.

As Chhotubhai carries the image of being Robinhood in the tribal pockets of Bharuch and adjoining Narmada district for his two decades struggle to fight for tribal rights, his popularity may attract more tribal votes for him, thus damaging the prospect of BJP’s Mansukh.

SP’s Mangrola, belonging to Kshatriya community with saffron background as he was elected as MLA on BJP ticket in 1995 and worked as a minister in RJP’s government headed by Shankersinh Vaghela in 1996, has no influence outside the Kashtriya community in Bharuch and Ankleshwar assembly constituencies forming part of Bharuch Lok Sabha seat, along with Karjan, Dediapada, Jambusar, Vagra and Jhagadia assembly segments. And the Kshatriya community in the region is reported to have been loyal to BJP. According to political analyst, Mangrola will eat into the support base of BJP and again harm the prospect of BJP.

With no political experience, Tankarvi, whose candidacy was announced by the Congress all of a surprise at the eleventh hour, is banking on the clout of Ahmed Patel and other Muslim leaders of the region.

Hailing from Tankariya village in Bharuch district with state’s biggest madrasa, Tankarvi is receiving support from both the traditional Muslim groups – one led by Muhammed Fansiwala and another by sitting MLA from Vagra, Iqbal Patel. Both Fansiwala and Iqbal Patel are working and addressing Congress public meetings all over the constituency, after Ahmed Patel virtually wept at a public meeting seeking votes for Tankarvi.

When questioned why he decided to contest poll, a litterateur and Urdu poet Tankarvi said that while working as a member of the Maualan Azad Educational Foundation (MAEF) during which he got funds worth Rs. 1.5 crore for several schools in the last six months, he felt that he could serve the community better if he joined politics and entered parliament or assembly.

“Moreover, as a journalist I had been writing continuously with an appeal for educated and good people to join politics; I thought I must join the politics to bring a change in the political system’’, he philosophized.

Out of 26 Lok Sabha seats in the state, Tankarvi is the only Muslim candidate fielded by the Congress. BJP has not fielded any Muslim candidate.