Gujarat Polls: Political Fortunes of 12 Assembly Seats Lies in the Kharwa Community


In Gujarat elections, the fishermen from the Kharwa community have an essential contribution in deciding the doom of a political party. The fishermen in the poll-bound state of Gujarat constitute around 9 percent of the population.

“The Kharwa community plays an important role during elections,” said Mukesh Panjari, president of the Porbandar Voting Association. “The main occupation of the Kharwa community in Porbandar is fishing, and they have a stronghold in 10 to 12 seats like Porbandar, Mangrol, Jafarabad, Valsad, Mandvi, and Dwarka.” He also said, “The main and persistent issue for fishermen is the price of diesel, which has been increasing steadily. Diesel accounts for 70 percent of the cost of fishermen who take their boats to sea.”

Mukesh Panjari said that the government’s announcement of a fixed diesel quota of 24,000 liters for large boats and 21,000 liters for small boats would increase the demand for their product. He said that the quota had been raised to 34,000 liters and 30,000 liters for their company.

Fishermen will now be able to buy subsidized diesel from any petrol pump recognized by the government instead of the earlier rule of buying only from petrol pumps run by the Gujarat Fisheries Central Cooperative Association or its associate cooperatives.

“The community is facing many problems due to non-availability of diesel, but now things are better,” said Mukesh Panjari. “We had to stop our fishing boat for two-three days, but now our demand is met and the problem is solved. We can now buy diesel from any diesel pump of the society. We thank the government for this scheme.”

Talking about the PMSSY scheme, he said fishermen cannot avail the benefits of this scheme as the entire system is online. The Fisher department of the Gujarat government has made new rules which are causing trouble for people. Our season starts on August 1 and ends on May 31. After a 2-month closure, fishermen are eager to go early, as they can catch good fish. Fishermen could not avail of the subsidy provided by the online system, so fishermen are not happy.

He said there is a lot of resentment in the Kharwa community because of the online system, but we are nationalists and think of the country first and will vote for PM Modi in the upcoming elections.

“We know we have problems, our business is slow, but we will vote for Modi,” he said. But we will vote based on society. Keeping the thoughts of the community in mind, we vote where it asks us to vote.

As assembly elections draw near, the BJP government in Gujarat has announced an increase in diesel and kerosene quotas for fishermen. The move comes amid growing concern within the party that the fishing community, which has a significant presence in at least nine constituencies in the state, is drifting away from the BJP.


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