Prime Minister-designate Narendra Modi is yet to declare which of his two constituencies — Vadodara and Varanasi — he will retain. But in Vadodara, from where he won by a margin of 5.7 lakh votes, party workers say that they have been instructed to “be prepared” for bypolls. Naturally, within party circles, leaders have begun discussing names for a “suitable candidate” for the Vadodara bypolls.
Within party circles, there is strong buzz around names of State Minister for Power and Energy, Saurabh Patel and Gaekwad scion and current Maharaja Samarjitsinh. While Patel, who was tipped to be in the race to succeed Modi as the CM, is the man Modi chose to deliver the constituency to him in his absence, Gaekwad family’s closeness to Modi and Rajmata Shubhanginidevi’s role as one of Modi’s proposers from the constituency has added to the buzz.
Party leaders refuse to come on record, but say that the “decision will be Modiji’s alone”. A group of city MLAs have been advocating for Samarjitsinh’s name since the last LS polls. Another faction of leaders says that Modiji might not want to uproot a strong leader like Patel from Gujarat to New Delhi as the state administration may suffer.
“Samarjitsinh is close to Modiji because of family connections and Modiji knows that Vadodara connects to Sayajirao even till today because everything Vadodara uses till date is given by Sayajirao. Since he is an admirer of Baroda’s greatest rulers, he might pick Samarjitsinh. Moreover, he will not be able to give all powerful ministries to MPs from Gujarat and so he is unlikely to choose a strong leader from here to be just an MP like Patel.”
On the other hand, senior party leaders say they are more inclined to support Patel’s candidature in the bypolls as they do not “identify with the Gaekwad scion”. Leaders feel that Patel will be a good choice as Modiji would want a strong leader in his Cabinet from Vadodara. A senior leader says, “Yes, both these names are most discussed right now. Modiji may choose Saurabhbhai because he has done a great job with the Jyoti Gram Vikas Yojna here which has brought much development to Gujarat. There are many parts of the country that need similar strategies to manage power crisis and Modiji trust Saurabhbhai with that. He might retain the Minister of Power with him until the bypolls, according to our analysis, if he is choosing Saurabhbhai from here.”
There is also a speculation that Amit Shah is being considered. Leaders also say that Modi loyalist Smriti Irani’s name was also in the running from Vadodara after she lost from Amethi. Ex-MP Balkrishna Shukla, who was the party’s dummy candidate during Modi’s nominations from Vadodara, also has a fair chance of getting a ticket.