Opposition Congress in Gujarat has received as many as 1,475 applications for the 182-seat state Legislative Assembly, elections to which are scheduled to be held next year. The highest number of applications the party received are from north Gujarat, considered to be the hotbed of Patel quota agitation, led by Hardik Patel. The number of applications the party received this time is more as compared to the 2012 Gujarat assembly polls, when the ruling BJP was led by the then Chief Minister Narendra Modi.
Gearing up for the polls early this time, the Gujarat Pradesh Congress Committee (GPCC) had called for the applications as it planned to finalise the list of candidates for 2017 polls by December.
“We have received 1,475 application from party workers to fight the 2017 elections for the 182 assembly seats,” Gujarat Congress spokesman Manish Doshi said on Tuesday.
The last date of submission of applications was October 21 and the party had made it mandatory for each poll aspirant to name at least 15 supporters per booth from the constituency, where they seek to contest the polls.
“The basic criterion set for the applicants was that each one must provide a list of 15 of his supporters per booth for the constituency from where, he seeks to fight the elections,” Doshi said.
“It was made clear to every applicant that this condition won’t be compromised at all,” he said.
The party has roped in a private agency for verifying credentials of the 15 supporters named by each aspirant.
“We have appointed a private agency to verify the authenticity of every supporter that has been listed by the candidates. We will soon verify the list of supporters of each prospective candidates and then clear the applications,” Doshi said.
Political experts feel that the overwhelming response to Congress’ call for applications could be because the ruling BJP appears to have lost the sheen it could boast of during Modi’s term. BJP has been in power in the state for the last 25 years.
The response Congress received seems to be due to hope that the party can make a comeback in the state, as the ruling BJP is facing a tough challenge following the Patel quota agitation and protests by Dalit community after the Una flogging incident. BJP even had to change the chief minister and Anandiben Patel was replaced by Vijay Rupani in August this year.
According to Doshi, the party received lesser number of applications in the constituencies where the Congress has sitting MLAs.
“Congress has 54 sitting MLAs at present. The number of applications received from the constituencies where we have sitting MLAs, were three to four on an average. Since it has not yet been decided how many of the sitting legislators will be retained or not, the number of applicants from these seats are less,” he said.
Doshi said, calling in early entries and finalising the list by December was the idea put forth by senior party leader Gurudas Kamat, who is in-charge of Gujarat Congress.
The highest number of applications were received from north Gujarat, which is a hotbed of Patel quota agitation led by young leader Hardik Patel, he added.
He further said that there was good response for the SC and ST reserved seats.
“Over 300 women party workers have also applied for the poll tickets,” he said.
About the next step, he said, “Now the names will be cleared by the state unit and they will be sent to the AICC for final clearance.”