Gujarat Assembly Election 2017: BJP candidate selection triggers discontent and disappointment among local leaders

Ahmedabad: Whether or not there is a new wind in the Opposition sails for Gujarat elections will be settled on 18 December. But for the Bharatiya Janata Party, opposition from within is an immediate and worrying reality.

In a first, senior BJP leader and former minister Ranjitsinh Jhala staged a coup of sorts on Saturday night.

 Gujarat Assembly Election 2017: BJP candidate selection triggers discontent and disappointment among local leaders

File image of Amit Shah. News18

At the function to welcome Wadhwan (Surendranagar district) candidate Dhanji Patel, Jhala alleged the ticket was sold for Rs 9 crore and walked away from the podium, leaving behind his saffron sash.

“I can’t work for an imported and bought candidate and leave old timers in the lurch," Jhala told Firstpost. "I have not asked for a ticket and nor am I interested. The situation made me uncomfortable."

Asked why he chose to be part of the welcoming committee, Jhala said, "I wanted to make a point."

The BJP dropped sitting legislator Varsha Doshi for Patel, chairman of the Surendranagar-based Makson Group, which manufactures machines to make lollipops, candies and gums, and which describes itself as "Innovative Sweet Technologists".

This isn't an isolated instance. After the BJP announced its list of candidates for December's Gujarat Assembly election, there have been rumblings of disquiet from within the party and protests from supporters of candidates not granted tickets.

While Jhala did not seek a ticket for the Wadhwan seat, former minister and party spokesperson IK Jadeja did. Jadeja was angered by this move. On Saturday night, his supporters gathered at BJP headquarters and raised slogans against the party.

“My supporters wanted me to be fielded from Wadhwan or Dhrangadhara. They lost all patience when an outsider was given the ticket,” Jadeja said, speaking out for the first time. However, he seemed to hope that the party would consider him for the Dhrangadhra constituency.

On Saturday, Jethabhai Solanki, sitting BJP legislator from Kodinar constituency, Saurashtra, resigned after he assumed he would be denied a ticket. Solanki, a prominent Dalit face, won his seat in the 2012 Assembly election by a mind boggling margin of 63,300 votes.

Solanki, who'd been appointed Parliamentary Secretary, went to the Shri Kamalam BJP headquarters on Saturday evening. He resigned after meeting senior party leaders. "I resigned from the party and all my posts," he said. "I can’t campaign for the BJP. I don't wish to go out for it among my people."

Since the BJP named its list of candidates, the party has been inundated by protests and resignations of local leaders in Vadodara, the tribal belt of South Gujarat, Navsari and Bharuch, Mahuva, Jasdan and Amreli in Saurashtra. Many of these leaders have threatened to field independent candidates against the BJP.

Curiously, the BJP has not been able to finalise candidates for the Mehsana and Bhavnagar district (except for deputy chief minister Nitin Patel and state party president Jitu Vaghani).

Any dissension on adjoining seats of state leaders would impact their prospects.

Amit Shah, who is making the final decision, cannot afford for his protégés Chief Minister Vijay Rupani and Vaghani to lose.

Updated Date: Nov 23, 2017 14:39:30 IST