In the run up to the Gujarat assembly elections scheduled next month, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Friday declared the first list of its candidates for the 70 assembly constituencies. Out of the 70 names, 42 are of seats that are going to polls in the first phase (December 9) and 28 are for those constituencies which go to polls on December 14 in the second phase.
The list includes Chief Minister Vijay Rupani, Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel and Gujarat BJP chief Jitu Vaghani along with several ministers in the state cabinet.
What catches the attention most, however, is the names of five former MLAs who had quit Congress and joined BJP in the run up to the highly controversial Gujarat Rajya Sabha elections in August this year. All five are senior leaders who hold a lot of influence in their respective constituencies.
The first in the list is Ramsinh Parmar, chairman of Amul dairy. Parmar is a big name in the co-operative sector of Gujarat who used to sit in the first row of Gujarat Assembly on the side of Opposition. Parmar had resigned from Thasra constituency as Congress MLA and now BJP has nominated him for the same seat as its candidate.
The other name is Raghavji Patel who has been nominated for Jamnagar Rural constituency. Raghavji is originally a BJP leader who had defected to Congress and who is considered as a loyalist of former Congress leader Shankersinh Vaghela. Raghavji is also one of the 14 Congress MLAs who revolted against the party during the Rajya Sabha elections in August.
Similarly, the three other former Congress MLAs who have been given nominated by the BJP include Dharmendra Jadeja, Mansinh Chauhan and C K Raulji from Jamnagar North, Balasinor and Godhra constituencies respectively.
The list also indicates an attempt to instill confidence among the state BJP leadership as 15 ministers from the cabinet of Vijay Ruapni have been nominated on their respective seats to seek re-election. These ministers include Shankar Chaudhary (Vav), Keshaji Chauhan (Deodar), Dilip Thakor (Chanasma), Bhupendrasinh Chudasama (Dholka), Jayesh Radadiya, Chiman Shapariya (Jamjodhpur), Jashabhai Barad (Somnath), Atmaram Parmar (Gadhada), Jaydrathsinh Parmar, Bachubhai Khabad, Rajendra Trivedi (Raopura), Shabdsharan Tadvi (Nandod), Ishvarsinh Patel (Ankleshwar), and Ganpat Vasava (Mangrol).
The two seats where the party has axed its sitting MLAs include Wadhwan and Mahuva constituencies. On both the seats – Wadhwan and Mahuva, women MLAs have been denied tickets. Sitting MLA from Wadhwan, Varsha Doshi has been denied ticket by the party from the seat and Dhanjibhai Patel has been nominated by the party for the same. Similarly, for Mahuva seat, Bhavna Makwana has not been repeated and Raghavji Makwana has been given ticket.
Another interesting candidate of the party from Dhari constituency of Saurashtra is Dilip Sanghani who is a stalwart of co-operative sector. In 2012, Sanghani had contested from Amreli constituency and lost to Congress’s Paresh Dhanani. This time, Sanghani has been nominated for Dhari constituency. Sanghani has once served as cabinet minister in the Gujarat cabinet when Narendra Modi was chief minister.
Ketan Inamdar, who had won from Savli constituency of Vadodara as an independent candidate in 2012, has joined BJP and is now fielded by the party from the same seat.
The other important inclusion in the list is Koli strongman Parshottam Solanki and his brother Hira Solanki. Parshottam is fielded from Bhavnagar Rual and Hira from Rajula constituency.