The ruling BJP and the Congress on Monday released their final list of candidates on the last day of filing nominations for the second phase of Gujarat polls. Former chief minister Anandiben Patel was among the nine sitting MLAs dropped by the parties.
The Congress, while releasing its final list of 14 candidates, left two seats for allies and backed Dalit leader Jignesh Mevani, who is contesting as an Independent. It did not field its nominee in Vadgam (SC) seat of Banaskantha in support of Mevani.
While the Congress has dropped four of its sitting MLAs, it has fielded OBC leader Alpesh Thakor in Radhanpur constituency. The sitting MLAs who have not been given tickets are Dharshi Khanpura, Hira Patel, Joitabhai Patel and Natvarsinh Thakor. For Mahudha seat, held by Natvarsinh Thakor since long, the party has chosen his son Indrajitsinh Thakor. Radhanpur is a bastion of the Thakor community and is currently held by the BJP. Alpesh recently joined the Congress in the presence of party vice-president Rahul Gandhi.
The Congress has been wooing community leaders like Hardik Patel of the Patidar quota agitation, Mevani and Thakor to dislodge the BJP, which has been in power in the state for over two decades. The Congress left two seats for ally Bharatiya Tribal Party, headed by former JD(U) MLA Chhotubhai Vasava. Vasava’s party is contesting five seats in the two-phase polls.
The BJP released its final list of 34 candidates, dropping five MLAs that included Anandiben Patel, who is also a minister. Patel, the legislator from Ghatlodia seat of Ahmedabad city, had earlier announced that she would not contest the polls. The BJP has dropped minister Rohit Patel from Anand seat. The other MLAs not given tickets are Nagarji Thakor, R M Patel and Vinchhia Bhuria. Former minister and spokesperson Jaynarayan Vyas will be contesting from Siddhpur, from where he had lost in the 2012 polls.
The polling for the 182-member Assembly will take place on December 9 and 14 and the votes will be counted on December 18. The 89 seats of Saurashtra and South Gujarat region are going to polls in the first phase while the remaining 93 seats in the central and northern region will figure in the second phase.
Former Gujarat Congress president Siddharth Patel has been nominated for Dabhoi seat of Vadodara district while senior High Court lawyer and party leader Babu Mangukia, who had fought Hardik Patel’s sedition case initially, has been chosen for the Thakkar Nagar seat in Ahmedabad city. Under the seat-sharing agreement with Bharatiya Tribal Party, recently floated by Vasava after the rift in the JD(U), the Congress has not fielded any of its candidates for five seats, including four reserved for Scheduled Tribes (STs).
For the first phase, the Congress has fielded its candidates for 86 out of the 89 seats, as three seats were given to Bharatiya Tribal Party. These tribal seats are – Jhaghadia, Dediapada and Mangrol, all reserved for STs. For the second phase, the Congress gave two constituencies – Morvahadaf (ST) of Panchmahal and Waghodia seat of Vadodara – to Vasava’s party. Both are currently held by the BJP.
The ruling party has also given tickets to Tejashariben Patel, the former Congress MLA who joined the saffron party earlier, and Kanu Makvana, the son of former Congress MLA Karamshi Makvana, who had crossed over to the BJP during the Rajya Sabha polls. In its sixth and final list, the party has given tickets to 12 sitting MLAs. The BJP has fielded Bhupendra Patel from Ghatlodia, represented by Anandiben Patel, while senior leader Kaushik Patel has been given the ticket from Naranpura, which was earlier represented by party president Amit Shah, who had resigned as MLA after his election to the Rajya Sabha.
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