A crowd has gathered in Morvada, a village located 35 km away from Pakistan border, to listen to Congress candidate Geniben Thakor for Vav assembly seat in Banaskatha district of Gujarat as she raises the issues of politically sensitive ‘Love Jihad’ and love marriage.
Thakor, who is considered a giant slayer, had defeated health minister Shankar Chaudhary in the 2017 Gujarat assembly polls, and surprised everyone. She has floated a solution to save daughters from a bad marriage, love or love jihad.
While speaking in her Sabha in Morvada, Thakor asks parents to be signatories of the wedding, and that, at least five people from the village must be witness to it. The idea is to let the boy know that the girl has a family who stands behind her. The people gathered clapped and applauded her.
Responding to whether she thinks it is an issue in villages, Thakor said, “When I spoke about it (Love Jihad and love marriages), everyone clapped, you saw that. It is a big issue. Children should get married in a traditional way. ‘Bhaichara bana ke rakhe’ (there should be harmony as well).”
Thakor also stressed, “Be it a girl or a boy of any caste or religion, love marriage is not a problem. But in our area where boys are unemployed and are involved in criminal activities, if they threaten a girl or lure her, that is wrong. If this happens, the girl’s life is spoiled in a year or two. This can be solved if there is parent’s consent in the marriage as they too want a better life for their children.”
The Gujarat assembly had passed a bill to penalise fraudulent religious conversion by marriage or ‘Love Jihad’ through marriage or allurement.
People in the village say though they may not like the ‘Paksha’ (party) Thakor represents, they like her involvement with the villagers.
Ranjit Singh while acknowledging that Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chief Minister Bhupendra Patel are good, Geniben has a local connect. “Her ‘Paksh’ is not good but she is good,” said 65-year-old Singh.
Amrut Bhai Barot, a villager of Morvada, said people love PM Modi and know that Pakistan is afraid of only him. Even the Patel government is performing well but people under them are ruining the work they are doing.
“She is there in our grief, sorrow, happiness, birth, death or if anyone has any problem she is there. She is one of ours,” said Barot.
One of the top Congress leaders in North Gujarat and MLA of Vav, a constituency that shares border with Pakistan, Geniben Thakor had defeated then sitting health minister and chairman of Banas dairy Shankar Chaudhary last elections.
In the state elections next month, Shankar Chaudhary will contest from neighbouring constituency Tharad against Congress’ Gulabsinh Rajput. Thakor while managing her campaign is addressing the Thakor community Sabhas for Gulabsinh Rajput.
Asked if Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) is eating into Congress’ votes on her Vav seat as well, Thakor dismissed the newbie party’s existence. “In rural, there is no AAP,” said Thakor.
Knowing she has a standard of victory to meet, Geniben said she started preparing for elections a year ago and had strengthened the party in her constituency from booth level.
“Not a day goes by when we don’t travel 200 to 300 km. I go to everyone’s house in their happiness, death and sorrow. We stand with them in every hour of need,” said MLA Thakor who believes there is no Hindu-Muslim issue in her constituency and people will vote for the politics of development.
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