NEW DELHI: The BJP released on Thursday its first list of 160 candidates for the Gujarat assembly polls, following a meeting of the party’s central election committee at its headquarters in New Delhi on Wednesday. Chief minister Bhupendra Patel will contest the election from Ghatlodiya constituency while home minister Harsh Sanghavi has been fielded from Majura seat.
Patidar leader Hardik Patel will contest the elections from Viramgam constituency while cricketer Ravindra Jadeja’s wife Rivaba has got a ticket from Jamnagar North. Several cabinet ministers such as Rushikesh Patel, Jitu Vaghani, Harsh Sanghvi, Jagdish Vishwakarma, Kanu Desai, Kiritsinh Rana and Purnesh Modi have been retained at their respective constituencies.
Of the 160, 84 candidates are for the first phase on December 1 when 89 seats will go to the polls, and 76 for the second on December 5 when remaining 93 seats are going to the polls.
There are 14 female, 13 SC and 24 ST candidates in the list of 160 announced on the day. Union minister Bhupender Yadav said the list includes 69 sitting MLAs, while 38 incumbents have been replaced with new faces. Out of the 69, 17 are turncoats who have joined the BJP over the last one decade. They included Bhagabhai Barad who joined the BJP just on Wednesday after quitting Congress. Similarly, former Congressman Mohansinh Rathva who joined the BJP along with his two sons on Tuesday was rewarded with his son Rajendrasinh being fielded from the Chhotaudepur seat.
After his nomination, CM Patel said he was happy to be named a candidate. “Under the guidance of PM Modi and Shah, we’re working tirelessly. We are going to be the single-largest party and break all records,” said Patel.
Other Backward Classes leader Alpesh Thakor’s name, however, has not been announced in the first list of 160, even as the party has declared quite a few names for the second phase elections. Surprisingly, 11 sitting MLAs from Ahmedabad city and all four from Rajkot city have been denied tickets. Sitting Morbi MLA Brijesh Merja has also been denied the ticket, which went to Kantilal Amrutia, the former MLA. Amrutia had rescued people by jumping into the river during the Morbi bridge collapse.
While there are just four days left for submitting forms for the first phase of elections, to be held on December 1, candidates for five constituencies – Kutiyana, Bhavnagar East, Dhoraji, Upleta and Choryasi – are yet to be declared by the party.
It is to be noted that former Gujarat CM Vijay Rupani, former deputy CM Nitin Patel, former senior ministers Bhupendrasinh Chudasama and Pradipsinh Jadeja, senior leaders RC Faldu, Saurabh Patel and Kaushik Patel have opted out of the fray this time, saying they will work for the party organisation . They all said that ‘others’ should be given a chance.
Complete coverage: Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh assembly elections 2022
The assembly elections in Gujarat will be held in two phases. The last date for filing nominations for the first phase of elections is November 14 while that for the second phase is November 17.
Union ministers Bhupender Yadav and Mansukh Mandaviya were joined by Gujarat BJP president CR Patil at a press conference in New Delhi where Yadav named the candidates selected by the party.
On Wednesday, the election committee, chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, decided the names of the party candidates. The meeting was attended by Union home minister Amit Shah, Gujarat chief minister Patel, state BJP chief Patil, party national president JP Nadda, Maharashtra deputy chief minister Devendra Fadnavis, Union minister Yadav and former Karnataka CM BS Yediyurappa among others. After the meeting, Shah held a separate meeting with the Gujarat CM and state BJP chief.
The BJP is hopeful of maintaining its uninterrupted winning streak in the state assembly polls since 1995 even as in the 2017 assembly elections, it had obtained a simple majority, despite an increase in vote share. It had won 99 seats, a decrease of 16 seats from the previous 2012 elections. The vote share and number of seats of the Congress, however, increased from the previous election. It had won 77 seats, again 16 more from 2012. This was the highest number of seats won by the Congress since the 1985 election, when it had won 149 seat.
The entry of the Aam Aadmi Party has added an extra dimension to the state’s traditional bipolar elections this time, with the BJP’s main challenger Congress hit by a fresh round of desertion by its leaders.