ibnlive » Politics

Dec 11, 2007 at 11:04pm IST

Businessmen put profit on hold to vote in Gujarat

New Delhi: In an election with such a high stakes where every vote counts, the business, diamond and textile industry remained closed on Tuesday with businessmen canvassing to garner support.

Diamond trader Praveen Anabatic got his entire family together, even calling his NRI daughter back from the US to vote.

And for that matter, the stakes in Praveen’s industry have never been as high as in this election.

"Yes, we will suffer losses but we will gain in the long run,” says Praveen.

Both the Congress and the BJP candidates are diamond barons, Modi loyalist Nanu Bhai Vanani and BJP rebel turned Congressman Dhirubahi Gajera.

Gajera's presence could case problems for Modi in a BJP bastion.

But the real battleground in south Gujarat is the tribal areas where the forest rights bill has become contentious.

Forty per cent of South Gujarat, who are tribals are Congress voters. They had switched to the BJP in large numbers in 2002 on voting day and the Congress was hoping to get back the lost vote.

“The Congress will have a grand victory in Gujarat,” says Gajera.

So the big question is, can the Congress translate tribal discontent into votes, or has Modi won them over with promises of giving land that at the end of the day, could determine the south Gujarat mandate.