Bypolls to eight Assembly seats in Gujarat will be held on November 3, the Election Commission of India (ECI) said Tuesday. The last date to file nominations is October 16 and withdrawal of nominations is October 19. The counting will be held on November 10. The eight seats that will go to polls — Abdasa, Limdi, Morbi, Dhari, Gadhada (ST), Karjan, Dangs (ST) and Kaprada (ST) — fell vacant after Congress MLAs representing them quit the party before the Rajya Sabha elections in June, thus bringing down the strength of the party in the polls.
After the ECI announcement, Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel said, “We are prepared to emerge victorious in these polls… We are going to win all the eight seats and increase our tally in the House.” The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has 103 members in the Assembly.
He said the Congress MLAs from the eight seats quit as they were “unhappy with the Congress leadership and infighting within the party”. The MLAs who quit in March 2020 were JV Kakadiya (Dhari), Pradyumansinh Jadeja (Abdasa), Soma Patel (Limdi), Pravin Maru (Gadhada) and Mangal Gavit (Dangs). Three more MLAs – Akshay Patel (Karjan), Jitu Chaudhary (Kaprada) and Brijesh Merja (Morbi) – quit later as the Rajya Sabha polls were nearing, reducing the strength of Congress MLAs to 65. Brijesh Merja, Akshay Patel, Jitu Chaudhary, JV Kakadiya and Pradyumansinh Jadeja later joined the BJP.
About the Rs 3,700-crore relief package announced by the state government for farmers who suffered crop loss this monsoon, Patel said, “Of the total 123 talukas that will get benefit of this package, many fall in the areas that are going to polls.” Patel also talked about the Rs 14,000-crore Atmanirbhar Gujarat Sahay Yojana and the work done by the BJP government to tackle Covid-19. When asked if the Congress leaders who joined the BJP will be given tickets, Patel said, “The party’s Parliamentary Board will decide on tickets.”
This will be the first election after CR Paatil took over as Gujarat BJP president. “Sitting MLAs of Congress lost confidence in their party and, therefore, they resigned… the Congress workers are demoralised, while BJP workers and leaders are enthusiastic… They will work for the victory of the party, irrespective of the candidate,” Paatil told The Indian Express.
He added, “Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, we cannot address public meetings… so we will also make maximum use of social media and address virtual meetings. BJP workers will carry out booth-level meetings and door-to-door campaigns. We will win all the eight seats in Gujarat. Campaigning, polling, counting and results will be over before Diwali.”
There are 172 members in the 182-member House, of which 103 are from the BJP, 65 from Congress, two from Bharatiya Tribal Party, one from NCP and one Independent member. The elections for two other vacant seats of Dwarka And Morva Hadaf have not been announced as matters related to seats are sub-judice.
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