New Delhi: Contrary to reports that the party will replace several of its sitting MLAs in Gujarat assembly elections to fight anti-incumbency, BJP retained most of its legislators in the list of candidates for 84 seats announced on Thursday.
The list for the first phase of elections in Gujarat has the stamp of Chief Minister Narendra Modi. Party sources said almost all the 84 names announced today were part of the original list presented by Modi to the BJP Central Election Committee (CEC), turning the whole exercise into a mere formality.
The ticket distribution for Gujarat has not been done as per any survey conducted by the party. BJP president Nitin Gadkari had made it a norm to give tickets based on the feedback provided by surveys commissioned by him.
While the constituencies of some sitting MLAs has been changed due to delimitation which has changed the demographic profile of their present seats, around seven sitting MLAs have not been given renomination.
Modi will contest from Maninagar seat while Gujarat BJP unit chief RC Faldu is the candidate from Jamnagar Rural.
There are ten women candidates in today's list while six candidates are from the Scheduled Caste category and 14 from Scheduled Tribes.
Elections for 87 of the total of 182 seats of Gujarat will be held on 13 December. BJP will announce the names of the other three candidates for the first phase in the next two-three days, party CEC secretary Ananth Kumar said.
Other than Gadkari, BJP parliamentary party chief LK Advani, who is MP from Gandhinagar in Gujarat, Leader of the Opposition in Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj and her Rajya Sabha counterpart Arun Jaitley, were among those present in the CEC meeting.
State Fisheries Minister Purshottam Solanki will be the BJP candidate from Bhavnagar Rural.
Solanki had recently found himself in trouble over his alleged role in the Rs 400 crore fishing contract scam when Governor Kamla Beniwal overruled the state cabinet and ordered his prosecution under Prevention of Corruption Act.
His rival would be the Leader of the Opposition in the assembly and Congress leader Shaktisinh Gohil.
BJP has put up former MLA Babu Bokhiria from Porbandar where his main rival would be state Congress president Arjun Modhwadia. This would be another high-profile contest.
Two-time MLA from Botad Saurabh Patel, who is minister of state for energy and finance in Modi government, did not get ticket from the old constituency as Congress has fielded Rajkot MP Kuvarji Bavaliya there. Instead, the ticket has been given to TD Maniya.
BJP veteran and Finance Minister Vajubhai Vala has been retained for Rajkot West.
The party has fielded Kanubhai Bhalala from Visavadar. Former chief minister Keshubhai Patel, who quit BJP to form his own party, is likely to contest from this constituency.