Godhra: The ghosts of the past don’t subside so easily, it seems! How much ever we try to evade the fact, the incident we don’t want to be named. The should not recalled or remembered anymore, while rest of us think that we should move on but for few people in Godhra that 2002 is just yesterday.
Fifty eight people, mostly Karsevaks returning from Ayodhya by Sabarmati Express train, were burnt alive allegedly by Muslims living near Godhra Railway Station on February 27, 2002, throwing Gujarat into a spiral of communal violence which took months to ebb away and left more than 1000 killed and many times more maimed and scarred for life.
‘Godhra 2002’. Godhra which is a place which has changed history of Gujarat and country, post 2002. Sadly, the people haven’t moved yet, the ghastly incident which took place in 2002 is like just yesterday for most of them. Many of the Muslim pockets are craving for basic amenities even after years. Move on, for most of the people won’t work here!
None, the locals, the politicians or the Non governmental organization working here are moving beyond communism. ‘Development’ has stuck somewhere here. Some of the youth have decided to work for themselves and as a result of which, at Godhra municipal election an independent body was formed after election in 2015.
Since 2002, BJP is keen to capture Godhra seat. CJ Raulji election from Godhra on INC seat has joined BJP and in 2017 contesting from BJP. Raulji is considered very close to Shankarsinh Vagela. This will be an interesting battle for Godhra this year.
Raulji said, changing party doesn’t matter. “I have been elected for five times. Two times from Jantadal and Congress each while one time from BJP. Before joining BJP, I have informed about local issues to Chief Minister,” said Raulji. “My priority will be on irrigation facility to farmers and employment to youth. If BJP will form government this time, then will work hard on this issues,” added Raulji.
Raulji himself said he was confident of getting Muslim votes again. Addressing party workers Thursday a function where some Muslim representatives also carried out a symbolic felicitation, Raulji said, “I have been working for all communities in Godhra despite being in the Opposition. Now that I am with the ruling party, it will allow me to take up, even more, work for the people of Godhra. I want to ensure irrigation water for Panchmahal district round the year, and employment by inviting more industries to Godhra.”
An independent candidate, who is also Councillor of Godhra municipality, Hanif Kalandar said, “Either BJP or Congress leader are not working for people. And as a result of the same, in 2015 people have voted independent candidate in local body election. After Raulji changed party, people have lost faith in him. There is no development by any government here and people want change.”
first time voter, Sohel Gora said, “The political people or their party have never worked here. Any one can see the ‘development’ here. We don’t have proper roads, drainage or water lines. For politicians we are nothing but votes, they consider us only during the time of election and visits again when election are near.”
“Godhra municipality had 44 seats, of which BJP has 18. The Congress won on one seat and Independents bagged 25 seats. With the some local congressmen joining the BJP, at least seven more councillors are likely to shift to the BJP,” said a local Congress leader. Raulji, who began his political career from Janata Dal, is seen as having an influential hold on the councillors. (Abdul Hafiz Lakhani is Ahmedabad-based senior journalist and editor of Gujarat Siyasat)