THE BHARATIYA Janata Party on Wednesday announced former minister Kiritsinh Rana as its candidate for the bye-election to Limbdi Assembly constituency in Surendranagar district. Soma Ganda Patel, the Congress MLA who had resigned the seat a few months ago and who was also in the race for the BJP ticket, said he had not made up his mind as to who he would support.
An official press release issued by the BJP stated that the central election committee of the party had decided to field Rana from the Limbdi.
Earlier in 2013, Rana had got the mandate of the saffron party to contest the bypoll to Limbdi seat after it was vacated by Patel. Then the sitting Member of Parliament from the Surendranagar Lok Sabha constituency, Patel had defeated Rana, who was a minister in the cabinet of then Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, in
the 2012 Assembly election. A few months later, however, Patel had resigned as MLA in order to continue as the MP. In the ensuing bypoll, the BJP gave mandate to Rana while Congress gave ticket to Patel’s son Satish. Rana eventually emerged victorious in the bypoll.
However, the electoral dual between Rana, a Kashtriya and Patel, a Koli, stretched to the 2017 Assembly election as the former was given the mandate by the BJP to seek reelection, while Congress nominated Patel to challenge the incumbent MLA. In the counting of votes, Patel defeated Rana. The victory also kept Patel’s political stock rising even after failing to retain his Surendranagar Parliamentary seat in 2014.
Limbdi is dominated by voters of Koli community which is the largest OBC group in the state and Patel told The Indian Express on Wednesday that he had not made up his mind as to who he would support this bye-election. “I too had demanded a BJP ticket to contest the bypoll but was denied. As a matter of fact, Rana was almost a certainty from the very beginning. Having this been decided, I have not made up my mind as to who I would support this bypoll. I would wait and watch as to who is fielded by Congress. Once candidates are finalised, I would take a decision based on who they are. Presently, I am neither with BJP nor with Congress. The BJP has not welcomed me with a party scarf so far and on the other hand, Congress has suspended me,” Patel, a veteran who has been elected to Lok Sabha four times and to Gujarat Assembly three times, said.
Congress is yet to declare its candidate for the November 3 bye-election.
Patel had resigned as MLA in March this year in the run up to the election to four seats of Rajya Sabha in the state. Congress had subsequently suspended him.
This is for the eighth time that the BJP has fielded Rana from the Limbdi constituency. He had fought and won from Limdi in 1995, 1998, 2007 and 2013 but had lost in 2002, 2012 and 2017.
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