A FEW veterans, four leaders formerly from the BJP or the Congress and social engineering via nominations – the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) showed all the characteristics of a seasoned political unit in its first list of 10 candidates released for the coming Gujarat Assembly elections.
With that, like in 2017, AAP became the first party in the state to announce candidates for the polls, with five months to go still. The 2017 results had been a disappointment, with the party losing deposits in all the 29 of 182 seats that it contested. This time though, AAP has been on the ground preparing for a long time, appointing new office-bearers and revamping the state unit, with Arvind Kejriwal taking the lead, visiting the state seven times in the past four months, and promising the party’s flagship free electricity scheme, and jobs.
Releasing the 10 names on Tuesday, AAP Gujarat president Gopal Italia said: “The list includes leaders from both urban and rural areas, from, Other Backward Classes (OBCs), Scheduled Castes (SC) and Scheduled Tribes.”
Calling AAP a “trendsetter for its unique style of politics”, Italia said: “We have announced the list in advance so that candidates can reach out to people in their constituencies and tell them about our vision.”
On four of the 10 seats where AAP has fielded candidates, the Congress was the winner last time while the BJP won the other six. AAP did not contest six of the seats in 2017.
A look at the names:
* Bhemabhai Chaudhary; Deodar seat, Banaskantha district
A founder-member of AAP in Gujarat, and one of its state vice-presidents, the 49-year-old is a farmer by profession, belonging to Jasra village in Banaskantha. The OBC leader has been spearheading party activities in the district, traditionally a Congress stronghold. Pointing out that he joined AAP right at the beginning in 2013, and that this was his first election, Chaudhary said: “It’s a matter of pride for me that the party has given me this opportunity.”
Deodar 2017 results
Shivabhai Bhuriyam of the Congress defeated the BJP’s Keshaji Chauhan by around 5,000 votes. AAP did not contest.
* Jagmal Vala; Somnath, Gir Somnath
A prominent BJP leader once, and a philanthropist-cum-social activist who runs charity schools and clinics in Gir Somnath district, Vala joined AAP in May this year after a meeting with Kejriwal. Soon after, the Kshatriya leader was made a vice-president of the party’s Gujarat unit. Having started with the Janata Dal back in 1990, Vala joined the BJP after the Janata Dal in Gujarat merged with the Congress. He broke away from the BJP before the 2012 Assembly elections, contesting as an Independent from Somnath seat and securing over 23,000 votes.
Somnath 2017 results
Vimal Chudasama of the Congress beat the BJP’s Jashabhai Barad by nearly 20,000 votes. AAP did not contest.
* Arjun Rathva, Chhota Udepur, Chhota Udepur district
A tribal leader and one of the newly appointed state vice-presidents of AAP, Rathva used to be a college lecturer. He contested both the 2014 Lok Sabha polls and the 2017 Assembly elections contested on AAP ticket but lost. In 2016, four FIRs were lodged against Rathva, which he claimed was a result of political vendetta.
Chhota Udepur 2017 results
Mohansinh Rathva of the Congress beat the BJP’s Jashubhai Rathva by a narrow margin of 1,000 votes. AAP’s Arjun Rathva got 4,551 votes, less than NOTA.
* Sagar Rabari; Becharaji, Mehsana
A prominent farmer activist belonging to the indigenous Rabari community, he quit the influential Khedut Samaj Gujarat (KSG) in 2018 against the land acquisition process for the Mumbai-Ahmedabad Bullet Train Project, setting up his own Khedut Ekta Manch. Rabari also accused the KSG of developing political affiliations. In August 2021, Rabari joined AAP and was recently made vice-president of the Gujarat unit.
Becharaji 2017 results
Bharatji Thakor of the Congress beat the BJP’s Rajnikant Patel by 15,000-odd votes. AAP did not contest.
* Vashram Sagathiya; Rajkot Rural, Rajkot
A former Congress leader and Rajkot Municipal Corporation member, Sagathiya joined AAP this year in April and was made the state general secretary. In 2017, the Congress fielded the SC leader from Rajkot Rural seat and he lost by a margin of only 2,179 votes, with 14 candidates in the race, apart from those fielded by the BJP and Congress.
Rajkot 2017 results
Lakhabhai Sagathiya of the BJP beat the Congress’s Vashram Sagathiya by around 3,000 votes. AAP did not contest.
* Ram Dhaduk; Kamrej, Surat
Dhaduk, 39, is a young AAP leader and former Surat unit president of the party, who is credited with AAP winning 27 seats in the Surat Municipal Corporation elections of 2021. In 2017 too, he fought from Kamrej but lost his deposit.
Kamrej 2017 results
The BJP’s V D Zalavadiya beat the Congress’s Ashok Jiravala by more than 26,000 votes. Dhaduk got 1,454 votes.
* Shivlal Barasia; Rajkot South, Rajkot
A prominent businessman, Barasia is the state trade wing president of AAP and former president of AAP Rajkot.
Rajkot South 2017 results
The BJP’s Govindbhai Patel beat the Congress’s Dinesh Chovatiya by around 45,000 votes. AAP’s Girishbhai Maraviya got 284 votes.
* Sudhir Vaghani; Gariadhar, Bhavnagar
A philanthropist, who runs a charity hospital in Gariadhar, Vaghani is the state joint secretary of AAP Gujarat.
Gariadhar 2017 results
The BJP’s Keshubhai Nakrani beat Paresh Kheni of the Congress by around 2,000 votes. AAP did not contest.
* Rajendra Solanki; Bardoli seat, Surat
The SC leader was recently appointed as the Lok Sabha in-charge of AAP for Bardoli seat.
Bardoli 2017 results
The BJP’s Ishwarbhai Parmar beat the Congress’s Tarun Kumar Vaghela by over 40,000 votes. AAP did not contest.
* Omprakash Tiwari; Naroda, Ahmedabad
A former Congress leader, Tiwari recently joined AAP and was made state joint secretary. In 2017, the Brahmin leader contested from Naroda on a Congress ticket but lost.
Naroda 2017 results
The BJP’s Balram Thawani beat the Congress’s Omprakash Tiwari by 60,000-odd votes. AAP did not contest.