Darshana Jardosh, the two-time sitting MP of Surat Lok Sabha seat, is facing immense challenge from within local unit over being renominated from the parliamnetary constituency which will vote on April 23 during the third phase of the general elections.
A total of 25 BJP leaders, including Jardosh, have put forward their names to party observers for the Surat Lok Sabha ticket to the team of three BJP election observers — Bharatsinh Parmar, Bharat Rathod and Bhavna Dave — who had come here last week to meet local party leaders and workers for their feedback on choice of candidates.
BJP sources said that party leadership had indicated a change of guard this time, and as a result many expressed their intention to contest from Surat. Click here for election stories
Among the contenders for the nominations are Surat city BJP president Nitin Bhajiyawala, four former party MLAs, five former city mayors and former BJP councillors among others.
Speaking to The Indian Express, Bhajiyawala said that he had put forth his name to the party poll observers since he had played a “pivotal role in helping the party win all the seven Assembly seats of Surat city in the last Assembly elections, two years ago.
“During the 2017 Assembly elections, the party had offered me a ticket to contest from Surat, but I declined as the situation was critical during ongoing agitation of Patidar movement. I worked hard and the results came in favour of the BJP as all the seven seats — Olpad, Surat East, Surat North, Varachha, Karanj, Kartargam and Surat West — were won by our party. Now, I feel that I have done my job for the party and my wish is to represent Surat in Lok Sabha. So, I made the representations.”
“Finally, it is up to the party top brass to decide who they want to contest from Surat. If I am denied the ticket, I will still honestly work for the party as the city unit president,” Bhajiyawala added.
BJP insiders said that there is a tug of war between two groups — Saurashtrian migrants living in the city and Surat locals, referred to as Surti — within the party’s local unit. The Saurashtrian community has a strong presence in the BJP here with Mayor Jagdish Patel also hailing from Saurashtra.
According to party sources, the Saurashtrian community has been trying to wield its influence in the BJP for the past few years. After only one the 16 MLAs from Surat — Kishor Kanani, also a Saurashtrian — was inducted into the state cabinet, local leaders are keen to exercise their power
Among the 25 ticket seekers, 15 are locals and remaining 10 belong to Saurashtra but have settled in Surat city. Sitting MP Jardosh, however, said that the rush among the party leaders for the Surat Lok Sabha ticket is because it is a “safe seat” for the BJP.
“The reason is that Surat is safest seat to win (for the BJP). Many ticket contenders are those who wanted to raise their stature in the party and by putting forth their names, they feel that the party leadership will give them important posts in the coming days. They want to show that they are still in picture,” Jardosh told The Indian Express.
With five woman leaders also in the fray, Jardosh said that if she is not given ticket, then it should be given to a male candidate. “If I am replaced, I wish that the ticket should be given to a male candidate and he should be a Surti,” she added.