In the upcoming bypolls, the BJP is set to bet on fresh faces. Except for two candidates — Mulu Bera for Khambhalia and Shiva Gohil for Talaja — the rest of the eight in the fray for a LS seat (Vadodara) and nine Assembly seats are all fresh faces.
Bringing new faces to the fore, instead of repeating the known ones, was something Prime Minister Narendra Modi had been trying since 2007 Assembly elections as Gujarat CM. But owing to the rebellion each time, especially led by the powerful Patel community, he was seen dropping the idea every time ? be it the 2012 Assembly elections or the 2014 Lok Sabha polls.
The upcoming by-elections, the first for the Gujarat BJP without Modi in 13 years, has been accepted as a challenge both by the new Chief Minister Anandiben Patel and the party. But, Modi, who was being visited by both Patel and Gujarat BJP chief Ranchoddas Faldu on the eve of announcement of nominees, finally seems to be able to be in a position to take a risk. The announcement, however, was delayed by a day as on Monday, the results of Bihar bypolls left the BJP nervous. Though, officially, party chief Amit Shah’s Jammu visit was cited as a reason for the delay in the announcement of nominees. The party maintained that Patel’s visit to PMO, along with Faldu, was just a courtesy call.
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“By-elections are a big challenge for us. But, at the same time, Gujarat , both in state and at the centre, was never this confident and stable,” remarked a senior party leader. “And given the fact that this is a by-election, the senior leadership in Delhi was in the mood to give a chance to new faces than old guards.”
Most candidates have come as a surprise even for the local unit, be it Lebbji Thakor for Deesa in Banaskantha district or Bavji Metalia for Tankara in Rajkot district. Interestingly, many within the party unit were looking for the profile of little-known chosen candidates. “Most chosen candidates are grassroots workers. They have been working for the party silently for quite some time now,” remarked a BJP leader. Most of them have roots in co-operative sector.
While Thakor is chairman of the Dama Thakorvas Milk Producing Cooperative Group, Metalia is director at the Rajkot Cooperative Bank.
Similarly, Mangrol candidate Laxman Yadav is director at the Gujarat Rajya Sahkari Sangh and Matar candidate Kesrisinh Solanki is chairman of Limbasi Dudh Utpadan Mandali. Limkheda candidate Vinchiya Bhuriya is chairman of the Nani Senjali Lamps Mandali.
“When Faldu was first made the BJP president for the first time, nobody expected it. So, choosing someone who maintains low-profile but is a dedicated worker is known as Modi’s style,” pointed a leader.