Even though the BJP declared its candidate for the Gandhinagar Lok Sabha seat much in advance,the Congress took the lead over the saffron party in declaring its first list of 12 candidates for the polls scheduled for April 30.
The reason for the delay in declaration of candidates for the rest of the seats by the Congress is reported to be the internal bickering among various factions as also the lack of suitable candidates.
But what has surprised political watchers is the delay in declaring the candidates for remaining 25 Lok Sabha seats by the BJP. Chief Minister Narendra Modi is still holding a tight grip over the state unit of the party.
Modi,who was only on Friday termed as the most popular leader of the BJP at present,by the BJPs prime ministerial candidate,L K Advani,is also the in-charge of the partys election campaign for Goa,Maharashtra and Gujarat. He is also reported to have been given the complete power to decide about the candidates to be fielded in the state. BJP sources say that if the Congress is faced with the problem of unavailability of suitable candidates,the BJP is flooded with aspirants to seek nominations,which has led to internal bickering among various interest groups within the party.
Although sources admit that Modi is the all-powerful centre in the state unit of the party,they do say he is facing resistance from those quarters,which want to protect their own interests.
Six-time MP Ratilal Verma has come out in the open and said that Modis criterion to not to field seniors and past MPs will politically harm the BJP. Meanwhile,several local BJP leaders in Surat have threatened to resign from the party in case candidates of their choice are not selected.
Verma has even said that Modi-favourites should not be allotted Lok Sabha tickets,which has brought the infighting out in the open. Verma,who lost his Dhandhuka constituency during delimitation,wants a ticket either from Kutch or Ahmedabad West,both reserved for Scheduled Caste candidates. An SC himself,Verma has been associated with the BJP ever since its inception.
With the chances of Surat MP Kanshiram Rana likely to be axed for his closeness to Modi-dissidents,the party had proposed the names of Veena Naik from the Surat seat and Dr. Jagdish Patel from the newly created Navsari seat.
But several BJP municipal councillors of the Surat Municipal Corporation have openly opposed the proposals saying that none of the two is a suitable candidates. They have also threatened to quit the party if the decisions are not changed.
The party is also facing almost a similar situation in Vadodara where Smriti Irani of the Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu thi fame is reported to be favoured by the state leadership over local leaders,including sitting party MP Jayaben Thakkar.
Besides Jayaben,several other party leaders including former Vadodara mayors Bharatiben Vyas and Shabdsharan Brahmbhatt as also sitting Mayor Balkrishna Shukla are in the queue for the Lok Sabha tickets.
Though Jayaben,who won the last three Lok Sabha polls from the seat says she will go with the partys decision,sources close to her says she is not feeling comfortable with the prospect of an outsider being imposed in the constituency which she has tended for long.
She is considered to be a non-controversial BJP parliamentarian in the state. When questioned,state party president Purushottam Rupala defended the developments.
He said: Such disputes are likely to occur when the party grows big and there are more claimants for a seat. But the party allows people to speak up their mind because it believes in democracy.
He,however,did not approve that leaders raise their grievances through the media. Verma should have abstained from going to the media and settled the matter within the party forum.
He said the party could end the bickering by announcing the names of candidates much early but the democratic process needed to be followed and hence it took time.
This is good in the sense that it allowed people to express their grievances and in the end,we will get good results. But everybody will return to his/her normal position once the candidates are declared,and work together for the victory of the partys official nominees, Rupala added.