Gujarat Assembly Elections 2017: BJP announces list of 70 candidates; Vijay Rupani to contest from Rajkot West

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Friday released the first list of candidates for upcoming Gujarat Assembly election with less than a month left for the polls.

According to the press release, a list of 70 candidates was finalised in a meeting with party president Amit Shah, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union home minister Rajnath Singh, external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj and other members of the BJP Central Election Committee.

As per the list, the state's chief minister Vijay Rupani will contest from Rajkot West, deputy chief minister Nitinbhai Patel from Mehsana, and state BJP chief Jitubhai Vaghani from Bhavnagar West. Former Congress leader CK Raulji, who recently switched over to the BJP, got a ticket from Godhra.

One of the main reasons for delay in announcement was that both BJP and Congress were waiting for the other side to come out with its nominees first, sources said. The last date of filing nominations for the first phase of the polls — when 89 seats will see voting on 9 December — is 21 November.

On Wednesday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and party president Amit Shah met in New Delhi to discuss the list of candidates, and Union minister JP Nadda later said that the list "would be announced at an appropriate time". This despite a preliminary list already being prepared by the party's state unit.

Staying ahead of the opposition party in the announcement, the saffron party list shows that it has repeated most of the sitting MLAs in their constituencies - contrary to what was speculated.

The noteworthy fact about the list is that six of the 14 Congress MLAs who had defected to the saffron party in August have been given tickets to contest from their constituencies. It remains to be seen how the opposition Congress party reacts to it and how it challenges it before the Election Commission of India (ECI) and in the judiciary regarding the anti-defection law.

Surprisingly and contrary to speculation, both the Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS) members, Varun Patel and Reshma Patel, have not been included in the first list of candidates.

Two BJP MLAs, Vadhwan constituency's Varshaben Doshi, and BJP MLA from Dhari constituency, Nalin Kotadia, have been dropped. Instead, Dhanjibhai Patel is to contest from Vadhwan and Dileep Sanghani will be contesting from Dhari.

On Friday morning, the BJP chief held a meeting with Prime Minister Modi and other senior leaders of the party in Delhi as well as Gujarat senior leaders, before announcing the list.

Election will be held in 93 assembly constituencies in the second phase on 14 December. Counting of votes in Gujarat, which has a 182-member assembly, will take place on 18 December.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has been in power in Gujarat for 22 years, winning five successive elections.

With inputs from IANS

Updated Date: Nov 24, 2017 15:53:50 IST