With 105 new entrants, 14 women and one Muslim, in addition to the 77 sitting MLAs who have been re-elected, the 15th Legislative Assembly of Gujarat is all set to be a mix of fresh faces and experienced hands.
Among the new faces will be Rivaba Jadeja—a businesswoman and the wife of cricketer Ravindra Jadeja—who won from the Jamnagar North constituency by more than 50,000 votes. There were 13 women MLAs in the 14th Assembly, while the preceding Assembly had a record 17 women MLAs. Apart from Rivaba, there are two other businesswomen—Rita Patel and Malti Maheshwari. Rita is the newly elected BJP MLA from Gandhinagar North seat which covers the state’s capital. A builder by profession, she is the mayor of Gandhinagar Municipal Corporation. Maheshwari, who won from the Gandhidham seat, is into logistics business.
The new Assembly will also have three practising doctors, including the deputy mayor of Rajkot Municipal Corporation, Dr Darshita Shah who won from the Rajkot West seat, which was represented by former chief minister Vijay Rupani in the 2017 polls. The other doctors include Dr Darshan Deshmukh and Payal Kukrani who won the Nandod and Naroda respectively for the BJP.
Apart from them, Darshana Vaghela—the newly elected BJP candidate from Asarwa in Ahmedabad—is a housewife, while Sejal Pandya from Bhavnagar-East is into teaching and coaching. Of the 13 women MLAs from the BJP, five are sitting MLAs. The lone female representation from the Congress is its sitting MLA from Vav, Geniben Thakor.
The lone Muslim representation in the new Assembly will be sitting Congress MLA Imran Khedawala, who have been re-elected by a margin of 13,600 votes.
The new House will also have the company of two of the richest candidates who fought the 2022 elections. JS Patel with declared assets worth Rs 661 crore won on a BJP ticket from Mansa, while former Congressman, Balvantsinh Rajput—with declared assets of Rs 372 crore—won Sidhpur for the saffron party.
The 15th Legislature will also have MLAs such as Hardik Patel who has as many as 22 criminal cases—the highest among the candidates in the latest election—lodged against him. Hardik won on a BJP ticket from Viramgam. Govind Parmar (79), who won from Umreth constituency on a BJP ticket, will be the oldest candidate in the new House.
A total of 126 MLAs recontested the 2022 polls. The voters re-elected 77 of them of which 84 per cent are from the BJP, while 12 per cent are from the Congress. The rest include former Congress MLA Dhavalsinh Zala—who fought as an independent after being denied a ticket and won from the Bayad seat, and Kandhal Jadeja who fought on a Samajwadi Party ticket after the NCP declined to back him as a party candidate from Kutiyana.
Of the total 111 outgoing BJP MLAs in the 14th state legislature, the party had given tickets to 71 MLAs; thus, allowing 64 per cent of them to recontest in the 2022 polls. In comparison, the Congress had given tickets to 85 per cent (51 MLAs) of their 60 MLAs left in the House following a string of resignations towards the end of the five-year term. While 65 BJP MLAs emerged victorious, only 10 Congress MLAs could win a second term as the Aam Aadmi Party cut into the vote share of many of these sitting MLAs.
Suspended from the BJP, Madhu Srivastav, who fought as an independent, lost from Waghodia seat in Vadodara. Similarly, Chottu Vasava, who had won on a Bharatiya Tribal Party ticket in 2017, also lost as an independent from Jhagadia. These two were also among the 126 sitting MLAs who recontested the 2022 polls.
Of the seven sitting BJP MLAs who lost the polls included a state minister Kirtisinh Vaghela. An MLA from Kankrej seat in Banaskantha district and Minister of State for Primary, Secondary and Adult Education, Vaghela lost to the Congress’ Amrutji Thakor, the brother of Gujarat Congress president Jagdish Thakor.
Former cabinet minister and sitting BJP MLA from Chanasma seat in Patan district, Dilip Thakor, lost to the Congress’s Dinesh Thakor by a thin margin of some 1,300 votes. Another former cabinet-rank minister Babu Bokhiria lost to his arch rival Arjun Modhwadia of the Congress from Porbandar. Raman Patel, MLA from Vijapur, and Mahesh Raval, sitting Khambhat MLA also lost to their Congress rivals.
In a surprising result, six-time MLA from Gariadhar seat in Bhavnagar district, Keshu Nakrani, lost to the AAP Sudhir Vaghani. Of the seven sitting BJP MLAs who lost the polls include state minister Kirtisinh Vaghela. An MLA from Kankrej seat in Banaskantha and the Minister of State for Primary, Secondary and Adult Education, Vaghela lost to the Congress’s Amrutji Thakor, the brother of Gujarat Congress president Jagdish Thakor. Former cabinet minister and sitting BJP MLA from Chanasma seat in Patan district, Dilip Thakor, lost to the Congress’s Dinesh Thakor by a thin margin of 1,300 votes.