Two prominent Patidar BJP MLAs have decided not to contest the upcoming Assembly elections to make way for younger faces.
Senior Gujarat BJP MLAs — Narayan Lallubhai Patel (79) from Unjha constituency of Mehsana and Narottam Patel (82) from Udhna constituency of Surat — have told the party high command that they want to make way for the younger generation. The two leaders have reportedly offered to step down citing the “unsaid age cap” of 75 years set by the BJP.
In July last year, Anandiben Patel had cited the age bar as a reason for stepping down from the post of chief minister because she was to turn 75 in November.
The age cap of 75 years for contesting polls or induction in the Cabinet is considered as an “understood guideline” of the party.
Both Narayan and Narottam have won the Assembly elections for five consecutive terms. They also represent the areas which had emerged as the hot spots of the Patidar quota agitation.
Surat and Mehsana have been difficult constituencies for the BJP in the wake of the Patidar agitation. In Surat, last September, BJP president Amit Shah had to face the Patidar protest during a public function, forcing him to cut short his speech.
Narottam Patel, who has been a minister in different BJP governments, told The Indian Express, “Yes, I have declared my wish not to contest the poll this time. And, I have conveyed the same to the party high command, and now it is up to them to decide. But, one thing is clear that I am not going to contest the polls this year.”
“The party has not given an outline on any age bar, but it is an understood guideline of the party that after a certain age, one should retire. I have crossed 80 and have been getting elected for five terms with huge margins. Now, I think that a young face should be given a chance,” the Udhna MLA said.
Narayan Patel, on the other hand, said, “I am an MLA for the past six terms, and have expressed my desire to retire. Now, it is up to the party to take a decision.” He was quick to add, “If the party asks me, I will contest the poll.”
Unjha is a spice hub of western India and Narayan’s son Gaurang is chairman of the Unjha Agriculture Produce Market Committee (APMC). It is being speculated that the party may give the Unjha ticket to Gaurang.
Asked whether he is pitching his son’s name for a BJP ticket from Unjha, Narayan Patel said, “No. But, if he is a worker of the party for years and has a legitimate claim, why not? Even Gaurang’s son Supreet is a BJP worker and close to state youth wing president (of BJP) Rutvij Patel. We have been with the party for generations.”
Gujarat BJP president Jitu Vaghani said, “Neither of the two have conveyed their feelings to me. But, who will fight elections, the decision will be taken by the parliamentary board.”