Known to all, but every vote counts
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Some six kilometres from where he began is Limbadiya Chowkri, the site where nearly 75 Muslims fleeing their village on two mini trucks were burnt alive and killed on March 2,2002. Maliwad was later charged with having led the rioters. Last year, after witnesses turned hostile, a local court in Godhra acquitted Maliwad. Maliwad,who calls the allegations false, stresses the relations he enjoys with Muslims. "I will approach them while campaigning," he says. His campaign takes him to 10 to 15 villages a day. Villagers wait for him at Bhamra village,adjoining Limbodra,as his small cavalcade pulls in. "Narendra Modi has said Balasi nor will be the headquarters of the new Mahisagar district, but if you vote me to power, I will ask Modi ji to make Lunawada the headquarters of the new district," he promises them.
"Since all the candidates are known to the villagers, the votewill be divided among the three. One cannot say who will win,"Thakor says. "As far as sitting Congress MLA Hirabhai Patel is concerned, he did some work for our village, like building a concrete border along the sub-canal coming from the Kadana canal," he adds, pointing at the canal.
Questions and Answers
You were an accused in riots cases. Are you campaigning among Muslims?
I enjoy good relations with Muslims in my constituency. I have been talking to them since the start of campaigning. I may have been accused in riot cases, but those were false accusations by my rivals and I was acquitted.
How do you expect to perform?
Looking at the response, I can say I will win by 25,000 votes.
How would you explain your 2007 defeat?
In 2007, I lost narrowly, by 84 votes. I should have won with a very good margin had I got the support of BJP workers, some of whom, I came to understand later, had campaigned against me under the guidance of former Godhra MP Bhupendra singh Solanki.
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