Surat In the midst of the elections in Gujarat, the wealthy vote-bank of diamond traders seems to be split down the middle in their support for the otherwise popular Chief Minister, Narendra Modi.
However, the split in support does not come without reason. Behind the glittery diamond trade, is the danger to life that lurks around every corner in Surat.
The city that handles a 75,000-crore jewellery export business, the largest in the world, makes life unsafe. This may be the reason that caused trader Meghji Makhwana's brother to be murdered in broad daylight, allegedly for the stash of diamonds he carried in his pocket. However what is appalling is state's apathy to their security.
“We have asked the police time and again for security but they have done nothing so far,” says Pravin Nanavati, President, South Gujarat Chamber of Commerce.
The industry has all the reasons to get miffed by the state. The diamond traders faced a loss of about Rs 2000 crores due to the floods which hit the state in 2006. If that was a reason to get hurt, what was worse was the state throwing a pittance, a few thousand rupees as compensation.
“Surat has a big diamond export business, but in the time of our biggest problems, the government should have helped us. On the contrary, they did nothing for our workers,” says a discontented member of the Surat Diamond Association, Mavjibhai Mavani.
The discontent may be at its peak, however the polls have a different story to tell. BJP seems to be far ahead of its competitors in south Gujarat and it seems the party has little to be afraid of.