sales from his station having increased five-fold since 2007 when the Nano plant was announced. His station supplied petrol for the initial Nanos that rolled out.
The Sanand wing of the GIDC is on the verge of becoming state’s largest in terms of land acquired, with rough estimates predicting over 5,000 hectares by the end of the year.
But the government has ignored infrastructure such as roads, schools, colleges, nor has it helped set up ancillary units that could have created job opportunities. Sanand has a couple of ITIs but no college. In 2008, the Ahmedabad Urban Development Authority included 22 villages of Sanand but is yet to divide these into industrial or commercial zones that would have enabled it to start putting infrastructure in place.
“Caste is a major factor here,” says Congress leader Pankaj Vaghela. He says the Congress has already gained the edge over the BJP by fielding Kamsi Patel, whose Koli Patel community, at an estimated 17 per cent, represents the single largest section of the electorate.
The BJP has fielded Kamabhai Rathod, sitting MLA of Viramgam. The Rajput’s nomination has upset local party workers. Kanbha Gohil, a Kshatriya, has switched to the Congress because of the nomination. “Although Rajputs are Kshatriyas, other sub-castes such as Darbars and Thakores view them as outsiders,” Gohil says.
The Darbars and the Thakores together constitute about one-fourth of the total 2 lakh votes. A tenth are OBCs, while five per cent each are Rabaris and Kadva Patels. The Leuva Patels represent two per cent.
BJP leaders insist they have got the caste equations right. “If you consider the whole of Ahmedabad district, we have distributed tickets to Patels, Rajputs and Kshatriyas. We have a lot of support from the Koli Patel and Kshatriya communities, besides other communities who form the largest number of voters,” says Pradipsinh Vaghela, state youth BJP chief and from Sanand.
The BJP leads the Congress narrowly, 11-10, in the Sanand taluka panchayat, elections to which were held in 2011. The result marked a fall for the BJP after the Sanand municipality elections of 2007, when it won 27 of 30 seats.
Caste and land have both been at the centre of crimes in Sanand. “Against last year’s 11 cases of community clashes, this year there have been 14 so far,” says N S Malek, inspector of Sanand police station.
There have been so many land disputes that district authorities formed