Ahmedabad/New Delhi: The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Friday released its first list of 70 candidates for the upcoming elections to the 182-member Gujarat Legislative Assembly. The polls are to be held in two phases on December 9 and 14.
“The Central Election Committee of the Bharatiya Janata Party met under the Presidentship of Shri Amit Shah. The meeting was attended by Shri Narendra Modi, Hon’ble Prime Minister, Shri Rajnath Singh, Hon’ble Minister of Home Affairs, Smt. Sushma Swaraj, Minister of External Affairs and all other members of the Central Election Committee of the BJP,” a BJP statement on Friday said.
Among the notable names in the BJP list are Chief Minister Vijay Rupani and Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel. Rupani will again contest from Rajkot West in Saurashtra and Deputy CM Patel has been fielded from the Mehsana seat. Meanwhile, Gujarat state unit President of the BJP Jitu Vaghani has also been repeated as the BJP candidate from the Bhavnagar West seat.
The BJP has denominated 50 of its MLAs, including the CM, the Deputy CM and state health minister Shankar Chaudhary. Two MLAs, Varsha Doshi of Wadhwan and Nalin Kotadiya of Dhari, were dropped from the BJP list. The seat of BJP MLA Bavku Udhad, who is the sitting MLA from the Lathi constituency, has been changed to Amreli.
The BJP has also given tickets to five rebel Congress who quit their party and joined the BJP during the Presidential election and the Rajya Sabha election of Ahmed Patel. The five former Congressmen who received BJP tickets this year are Raghavji Patel, Dharmendrasinh Jadeja, Ramsinh Parmar, Mansinh Chauhan and C K Raolji.
CM Vijay Rupani is confident of a win from Rajkot West but anger among Patidars, who make up a chunk of voters in the area, have given the Congress a fighting chance. Gujarat BJP President Jitubhai Vaghani, meanwhile, is facing protests from the local Rajput community in Bhavnagar after he initiated action against a Rajput Sarpanch following a dispute.
Gujarat Assembly Constituency number 69 — Rajkot West — has been a prestige seat for the BJP. In 2002, Narendra Modi contested the first-ever election of his life from Rajkot West and won, before being anointed CM. This time, the BJP candidate is Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani. In the 1984 elections, BJP leader Vajubhai Vala won the seat by beating Congress candidate Harshdaba Chudasa. Vala remained the MLA from Rajkot West till 2002, when he vacated the seat for BJP’s CM-designate Narendra Modi. The future Prime Minister won the election from Rajkot West after polling 45,298 votes. His opponent, Congress leader Ashwini Maheta polled 30,570 votes in the bypoll.
When the BJP formed the government at the Centre in 2014 and Modi finally ascended the high seat in Delhi, Vala was rewarded for keeping the BJP fortress intact and was made the Governor of Karnataka. In the 2014 bypoll, the seat then passed on to Vijay Rupani, who won with 81,092 votes. He beat his Congress opponent Jayanti Kalriya, a Patidar, by over 23,000 votes. In August 2016, when Chief Minister Anandiben Patel resigned, Rupani was elevated to CM.
Here’s the complete first list of BJP candidates: