Even as Gujarat BJP president R C Faldu carried the list of candidates for 26 Lok Sabha seats in Gujarat to the central parliamentary board in New Delhi on Tuesday for final ratification, the state unit of the party seemed to be pushing hard for Chief Minister and BJP’s Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi’s candidature from one seat in Gujarat, besides Varanasi which has already been declared. The reason being that its local campaign pitch rides on the “Gujarati asmita” (pride) aspect of having an MP from Gujarat for India’s top job.
Party leadership and workers in Vadodara, meanwhile, have expressed their wish that Modi be considered as the party’s candidate from Vadodara Lok Sabha constituency. “The Gujarat parliamentary board has put forward its wish that Modi should also contest from Gujarat,’’ said state BJP general secretary Vijay Rupani at the end of a meeting held at Modi’s official residence in Gandhinagar on Tuesday. He added, “Then it is up to the national parliamentary board to decide.” The top party leaders maintained that there is least possibility that the national leadership will ignore Gujarat unit’s sentiments.
The state parliamentary board has received recommendations for Modi’s candidature from several Lok Sabha constituencies, most prominently from Ahmedabad East, Surat and Vadodara, state BJP general secretary Bharat Pandya said. “In fact, party workers, MLAs and the MP from all 20 unreserved seats have expressed their wish to field Modi from their respective Lok Sabha constituencies. Vadodara BJP MP and MLAs have strongly recommended party’s state parliamentary board to consider Modi’s name for Vadodara Lok Sabha seat,” Pandya said while addressing a press conference in Vadodara. The state BJP has also proposed that former deputy prime minister L K Advani be repeated from Gandhinagar constituency, which he has represented for five terms since 1991.
The party’s state parliamentary board has prepared the final panels consisting of three probables for all 26 LS seats that will go to polls on April 30. However, for Gandhinagar, the state unit has not proposed a panel but only incumbent Advani’s name. The Gujarat unit will also strongly advocate to the national parliamentary board for the candidature of Modi from his home state. The list for Gujarat candidates will be announced on Wednesday evening at the end of the party’s national parliamentary board meet in New Delhi.
There were reports that a section of the state BJP did not wish Advani to contest again from Gandhinagar, especially after he twice opposed the elevation of Modi to the national platform. Rupani, however, maintained that Gujarat unit unanimously proposed Advani’s name for Gandhinagar.
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“While we have shortlisted three names for all the seats, for Gandhinagar we have put forward only Advaniji’s name,’’ Rupani said. “He is our most senior leader and all of us want him to contest from Gandhinagar,’’ he added. Party workers feel if Modi contests from Vadodara, he’ll win by a record margin as it is the BJP’s stronghold.
BJP MP from Vadodara, Balkrishna Shukla, said Vadodara has been Modi’s “karma bhoomi” from where he worked at the grassroots level as an RSS pracharak several years ago.
With inputs from Hiral Dave, Kumar Anand