Voting for 89 of 182 constituencies spread across 19 districts will be held on Thursday for the first phase of Gujarat Assembly elections. Voting will be held between 8 am and 5 pm on Thursday across 14,382 polling stations, the office of the state Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) said in a release. The second phase of the assembly elections will be held on December 5 and the results will be declared on December 8 along with Himachal Pradesh.
Following are the key assembly constituencies going to polls today.
The election in this constituency comes after the Jhulto Pul suspension bridge tragedy that killed 135 people. The BJP dropped sitting minister of state for Labour, Brijesh Merja who defected from the Congress just before the 2020 Rajya Sabha election and won a subsequent bypoll on a BJP ticket. Contesting on the BJP ticket this time is Kantilal Amrutiya, the former MLA whose videos of rescuing people who fell from the suspension bridge, went viral. In 2012, BJP’s Amrutiya won the seat against Congress’ Merja but Merja defeated Amrutiya in 2017 as a Congress nominee, largely on account of Patidar votes. Merja defeated BJP candidate Amrutiya by 3,419 votes.
The seat is witnessing a glamorous contest after BJP gave ticket to Rivasinh Solanki alias Rivaba Jadeja, wife of cricketer Ravindra Jadeja. Rivaba joined the BJP in 2019. The seat was won in 2012 by Dharmendrasinh Jadeja alias Hakubha on a Congress ticket. However, Hakubha defected to the BJP before the 2017 Rajya Sabha elections, got elected on a BJP ticket in the 2017 Assembly election and went on to become a minister in the Vijay Rupani government. The Congress has fielded Bipendrasinh Jadeja, president of Jamnagar Chamber of Commerce and Industry and a long-time party worker.
This is the seat from where AAP’s chief ministerial candidate Isudan Gadhvi is contesting against sitting Congress MLA Vikram Madam. The BJP has fielded old timer Mulu Bera, who has been openly backed by Reliance Industries Ltd Director, corporate affairs, and Rajya Sabha MP Parimal Nathwani. The Ahir community (OBC) is the most-dominant electoral group in the area and only Ahir candidates have been elected from the seat since 1972. The rivalry between Madam and Bera, both from Ahir community, dates back to three decades and the two are set for one more showdown after 20 years.
The seat saw a dramatic turn of events with sitting MLA and Porbandar strongman Kandhal Jadeja not getting the NCP mandate to contest again. He then filed his candidature with the backing of Samajwadi Party. The Congress has fielded Nathabhai Odedara and BJP has fielded Dheliben Odedara who is the Kutiyana Nagarpalika president since 1995. AAP has fielded Bhimabhai Makwana. This election will put Jadeja’s clout to test as he had won the seat in 2012 and 2017 on NCP tickets and had the Congress backing in 2012. Kutiyana has around 68,000 votes of Mer community to which Jadeja, Nathabhai and Dheliben belong.
A seat dominated by Patidar voters, Visavadar has seen high-stake battles in the past with Keshubhai Patel winning from here in 1995 and forming the first BJP government in the state. The BJP won it in 1998, 2002 and 2007 also. In 2012, BJP suffered defeat when Keshubhai rebelled and floated Gujarat Parivartan Party. In 2014, GPP was merged with BJP and Patel resigned as Visavadar MLA. In the subsequent bypoll, BJP fielded Keshubhai’s son Bharat. But Harshad Ribadiya of Congress defeated Bharat. Ribadiya retained the seat in 2017 by defeating Kirit Patel of the BJP. However, Ribadiya defected to the BJP this month and is contesting on BJP ticket now. His main rival is Karshan Vadodariya of Congress though Bhupat Bhayani of AAP makes it a triangular contest.
This seat in Bhavnagar district in Saurashtra is dominated by Koli community voters. It has been a BJP bastion since 1998 when Dr Kanu Kalsariya, a popular urologist who runs a charitable hospital in Mahuva taluka, defeated Chhabildas Mehta, former CM of Gujarat. Having angered the BJP leadership due to his agitation against a proposed cement plant of Nirma Group in Mahuva, Kalsariya left to form his own front called Sadbhavna Manch but lost the 2012 Assembly election from Gariyadhar seat adjoining Mahuva. He later joined AAP but quit after around three years. He contested for Mahuva seat in 2017 as an Independent but lost to Makwana and came third after Babu Mangukiya of Congress. Hower, he joined Congress in 2018 is the Congress candidate this time. In recent years, he has been leading an agitation against limestone mining by Ulratech Cement in Mahuva and Talala talukas. The BJP has dropped RC Makwana, the Minister of State for Social Justice and Empowerment in the outgoing government, and has instead fielded Shiva Gohil, a Koli leader who won Assembly elections from Talalja seat in 1995, 1998 and 2002 and an Assembly bypoll in 2014. He was denied ticket by the party in 2007 and 2012 despite being a sitting MLA. The AAP has given a ticket to Ashok Joliya.
This seat in Rajkot district is set for a showdown between veteran Kunvarji Bavaliya and his one-time protégé Bhola Gohil. Bavaliya won this seat as a Congress leader in 1995, 1998, 2002 and 2007 before his election to Lok Sabha in 2009. While Bavaliya was serving as MP of Rajkot, Congress gave ticket to Gohil in 2012 elections to contest from this seat dominated by Koli voters. In his electoral debut Gohil, who also hails from Koli community, defeated Bharat Boghra, a Patidar who had defeated Bavaliya’s daughter in a bypoll in 2009 after rebelling against Bavaliya and quitting Congress. However, Gohil voted for the BJP in the Rajya Sabha election in August 2017. In July 2018, Bavaliya himself switched over to the BJP and resigned as MLA. Bavaliya is contesting his eighth election from this seat and second as a BJP candidate. Gohil of Congress is his main rival. AAP candidate is Tejas Gajipara, a Patidar.
Seen as a Congress bastion, the BJP and BTP have put up Christian candidates. Sitting Congress MLA Punaji Gamit, who is also Gujarat assembly’s lone Christian MLA, will defend this seat for the third time. The BJP has given the ticket to Mohan Kokni, while BTP candidate is Sunil Nagajibhai Gamit and AAP candidate is Bipin Chaudhary, a Tribal Hindu. The Scheduled Tribe reserved seat has 2.23 lakh voters, of which 76,625 are Gamits, followed by 64,065 Chaudharys, 16,787 Koknis, 12,573 Dodhiyas, 4,822 Muslims, 3,922 Bhils , and 3,022 Marathi voters and others.
AAP state president Gopal Italia is contesting his first election from this seat where the BJP has repeated its candidate and Minister of State for Urban Development and Urban Housing Vinod Moradiya and the Congress has fielded Kalpesh Variya who is from the Prajapati community under OBC. Patidars and the Prajapati community are the dominant communities in Katargam. The seat has around 90,000 registered Patidar voters and around 75,000 Prajapati voters, along with a sizeable migrant voter base. In the civic body polls last year, two AAP councillors were elected from ward 7 and one from ward 8.
The seat in Bharuch district was earlier with JD(U) and later with BTP candidate Chhotubhai Vasava since 1990 who is now contesting as an independent candidate. Chhotubhai’s son Mahesh Vasava had filed his nomination form earlier. After a tussle between father and son that continued for couple of days, Mahesh compromised and withdrew his candidature. The BJP has fielded former BTP Leader and Jhagadia taluka panchayat elected member Ritesh Patel who was earlier close to Chhotubhai Vasava, but left a few years ago. Now, BTP leaders and supporters will work for the victory of Chhotubhai.
The BJP has repeated it sitting MLA and state cabinet minister Ishwar Patel, while the Congress has fielded Khedut Samaj Gujarat leader Darshan Naik, while the AAP has fielded Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti convener Dharmik Malaviya. Olpad has a dominance of Patidar and Koli community voters. The total voters on Olpad seat are 4.52 lakhs, out of which 1.74 lakhs are patidars followed by 75,000 Koli Patel, 50,000 Muslims, 12,000 tribals and 35,000 Dalits. BJP candidate is Koli, while Aap candidate is Patidar and Congress candidate is Local Anavil Brahmin. The constituency recently witnessed a protest from farmers whose land was to acquired for railway track from Hazira to Olpad.
The seat falls in Valsad district and is reserved for Schedule Tribes. Former Congress leader and now BJP candidate and state cabinet minister Jitubhai Chaudhary, is holding the seat since 2012. The Congress had fielded Vasant Patel while the AAP has fielded Jayendra Gavit, who are contesting assembly elections for the first time. Some villages of Kaprada seat come under the Par Tapi Narmada river linking projects over which the tribals have been protesting. Another issue that people here face is mobile network connectivity.
The BJP has fielded Darshana Deshmukh (Vasava), a gynecologist from Nandod and daughter of former four-term BJP MP from Bharuch Chandu Deshmukh, who defeated Congress leader Ahmed Patel in 1989. The BJP Tribal Morcha president and two-term MLA from Rajpipla, Harshad Vasava, has filed his nomination as a rebel independent.The party suspended Harshad but BJP leaders do not deny that his presence as an independent is an added challenge in an already complicated battle. Congress dropped sitting MLA PD Vasava to field a younger Haresh Vasava. AAP has fielded former BTP leader Praful Vasava who is also popular in the area. This seat has the Statue of Unity.
The AAP’s nomination of Chaitar Vasava, a former confidant of sitting MLA and BTP president Mahesh Vasva, drove Mahesh out of the seat. While BJP’s Moti Vasva won the seat at least on three occasions, including in 2012, the party has decided to field a young Hitesh Vasava, who is known to be close to MP Mansukh Vasava, and a former BTP leader. The Congress has fielded a woman, Jerma Vasava — who was the frontrunner even in 2017 until the party decided to part with the seat for the BTP, leaving party workers distraught.