The Gujarat BJP on Friday declared candidates for 70 assembly constituencies for the two-phase state elections starting December 9. Besides the names of Chief Minister Vijay Rupani and his deputy Nitin Patel, names of Gujarat BJP chief Jitu Vaghani and several cabinet ministers feature in the party’s first list. Significantly, five former MLAs who were among the 14 to quit the Congress and join BJP in the run-up to the highly controversial Gujarat Rajya Sabha elections in August this year, are also named. All five are senior leaders who wield a lot of influence in their respective constituencies.
Among the Congress rebels in the list is Ramsinh Parmar, the chairman of Amul Dairy, who would always be seen sitting in the first row of the Gujarat Assembly on the Opposition benches. Parmar, who resigned from Thasra constituency as Congress MLA, has been fielded from the same seat.
Former Congress MLA Raghavji Patel has been nominated from Jamnagar Rural constituency. Raghavji had earlier defected to Congress from the BJP and was considered a loyalist of former Congress leader Shankersinh Vaghela.
The three other former Congress MLAs whose names have been announced by the BJP are Dharmendra Jadeja, Mansinh Chauhan and C K Raulji from Jamnagar North, Balasinor and Godhra constituencies, respectively.
The first list of nominations also indicates an attempt on the part of the BJP to instill confidence among the state party leadership with 15 ministers from the cabinet of Vijay Rupani having been named from 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 party has, however, not nominated only two sitting MLAs. Denying ticket to sitting MLA from Wadhwan, Varsha Doshi, the party has fielded Dhanjibhai Patel in her place.. Similarly, Bhavna Makwana has not been repeated from Mahuva and Raghavji Makwana has been given ticket.
Another interesting candidate of the party is Dilip Sanghani, a stalwart of co-operative sector, who is running from Dhari constituency of Saurashtra. In 2012, Sanghani had contested from Amreli constituency and lost to Congress’s Paresh Dhanani. 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 the party’s nominee from the same seat.
The other important inclusion in the list is Koli strongman Parshottam Solanki and his brother Hira Solanki. Parshottam is running from Bhavnagar Rual and Hira from Rajula constituency.
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 that go to polls on December 14 in the second phase.