The Congress, which on Wednesday announced its candidates for all the Lok Sabha seats in Gujarat except Bharuch and Dahod, has given tickets to seven sitting MLAs.
Party sources said that the sitting MLAs have been chosen over others owing to their popularity in their areas and thus winnability in the parliamentary elections.
All seven MLAs filed their nominations on Wednesday.
The seven are Paresh Dhanani, Leader of Opposition in the State Assembly, who has been named for the Amreli Lok Sabha seat, Jitu Chaudhary for Valsad, Punjabhai Vansh for Junagadh, Lalit Vasoya for Porbandar, Lalit Kagathara for Rajkot, Rajendrasinh Thakor for Sabarkantha and 79-year old Somabhai Gandabhai Patel for Surendranagar.
If the MLAs win the Lok Sabha seats, their resignation from their Assembly seats will not affect the party in Gujarat as it is not in power in the state.
The names of candidates for Bharuch and Dahod will be cleared in the morning on April 4, the last date of filing nominations in Gujarat where the polls are scheduled to take place on April 23. Click here for more election news
Dhanani represented Amreli Assembly constituency in the state legislature, Jitu Chaudhary represented Kaprada, Punjabhai Vansh – Una in Gir Somnath district, Lalit Vasoya – Dhoraji, Lalit Kagathara – Tankara, Rajendrasinh Thakor – Modasa, and Somabhai Gandabhai Patel – Limdi.
Somabhai has won four Lok Sabha polls – thrice on a BJP ticket and once in 2009 on a Congress ticket – and two Assembly elections from Limbdi in 2012 and 2017. Somabhai is a Talpada Koli, the majority community in the constituency. He rose through the ranks, having contested elections from the nagarpalika level. Surendranagar, which has seven Assembly constituencies, Congress holds all of them, except one, Wadhwan.
After Koli leader Kunwarji Bavaliya defected to the BJP, Somabhai is the tallest leader from the community in the Congress.
Lalit Kagathara will be pitted against Rajkot’s sitting MP from the BJP Mohan Kundariya. Before filing his nomination, Kagathara organised an election meeting at Bahumali Bhavan. Congress MLAs Brijesh Merja and Mohammad Javid Pirzada also addressed the meeting.
As for Bharuch seat, AICC treasurer and senior party leader Ahmed Patel, all of a sudden, dropped his plan to fight from the seat.
(Inputs from Ritu Sharma)