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Aug 04, 2007 at 01:52pm IST

Dissent in Guj BJP is taking a toll on diamond industry

New Delhi: It's not the kind of welcome you'd think a suspended MLA would get, but like the other Gujarat MLAs suspended by the BJP last month on charges of indiscipline, Dhirubhai Gajera isn't your regular politician.

He has deep links with the diamond industry in the state -- links that could prove fatal for the BJP's chances in the upcoming elections.

Diamond traders have traditionally voted for the BJP in Gujarat, but that relationship is now under strain.

President, Surat Diamond Association, Devjibhai Damaliya, confirms this saying, "For the past 30 years, the diamond industry has been with the BJP. Both funds have flowed to the BJP and workers have voted for the party. This time, it is not so."

The BJP is already feeling the impact financially. This gems and jewellery park, whose foundation was laid by Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, had been promised Rs 4,600 crore from 300 investors.

As of now though, only the compound wall has been built, and 50 investors have already backed out.

Says Ex-member, Gujarat Hira Bourse, Chunibhai Gajera, "Narendra Modi has not kept the promises he made to the industry. People have begun backing off and there is no idea when the project will be complete."

However, there are some within the industry who are still with Modi.

Says Ex-President, Surat Diamond Association, Nanubhai Vanani, "The Modi government has freed the industry from VAT. The industry is happy with the government."

For many of the 10 lakh people who work in the industry, the BJP is no longer a default choice.

(With inputs from Kinnari Patel in Surat)

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