Ahmedabad: Despite being the home turf of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and party chief Amit Shah, the tension in the BJP camp was palpable as it announced the first list of 70 candidates on Friday for the upcoming Gujarat Assembly Election.
By including 49 sitting MLAs in the list the party has inadvertently admitted its nervousness as the poll dates draw closer. While 11 candidates are the defeated ones in the last election in 2012, five are Congress defectors and five are making a debut in the poll battle. Among these candidates, 16 are Patidars to counter the Hardik Patel factor.
It was earlier being discussed that true to their style Modi and Shah may drop almost half of the MLAs, including ministers, as part of a no-repeat theory for alleged non-performers. Not only this, the party has repeated as many as 11 defeated candidates. It is clear the BJP think-tank does not wish to risk any kind of dissension.
This is in sharp contrast to the past when Modi, as the chief minister, had once dropped almost all sitting municipal councilors during the elections to six municipal corporations and still got all the civic bodies of the major cities in the party fold with a better majority.
The party has dropped Varsha Doshi, who has been replaced by Dhanjibhai Patel of the Makson Group, which manufactures machines to make lollipops, candies, and gums and calls itself as Innovative Sweet Technologists. Dhanjibhai comes from the same Patidar sub-caste—Kadva—as firebrand young leader Hardik Patel. This move is being seen to bring about a dent in support base of Hardik.
There is also Dilip Sanghani, once a close confidant of Modi but no longer. He has been fielded from Lathi constituency in Saurashtra after dropping sitting rebel MLA Nalin Kotadia. Sanghani had lost to Congress’ young and aspiring chief ministerial candidate Paresh Dhanani from the nearby Amreli constituency.
Both are Patidars. Dhanani is among the four co-presidents of the state Congress appointed to clip the wings of the chief Bharatsinh Solanki. Bavku Unghad is the BJP candidate from Amreli against the possible candidature of Dhanani. Among IPS officials, who want BJP tickets, is PC Baranda, who resigned two days ago, and has been announced for Bhiloda (ST) seat.
As many as five of the 14 Congress defectors, including those who queered the pitch for Congress veteran Ahmed Patel during the August Rajya Sabha elections, also find a place in the list.
Of the 70, 58 candidates are to contest polls in the first phase of polls on 9 December, while 12 are slated to contest in the second phase to be held on 14 December. Polling will be held for 89 constituencies in the first phase on and 93 in the next. Gujarat has 182 Assembly seats.
The party has set to rest speculations and renominated Chief Minister Vijay Rupani from Rajkot (West), his deputy Nitin Patel from Mehsana and state party chief Jitu Vaghani from Bhavnagar (West). The strong MLAs who switched over from the Congress and are the BJP nominees are Raghavji Patel, Dharmendrasinh Jadeja, CK Raolji, Mansinh Chauhan and Ramsinh Parmar.
Updated Date: Nov 23, 2017 14:36 PM