In Gujarat, Congress Pins Hope on Political Dynasties to Recapture Rural Heartland
Congress, which had given a stiff competition to the BJP in 2017 assembly elections, aims to create a similar effect in the home state of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP president Amit Shah in the 2019 parliamentary polls.
File photo of Congress chief Rahul Gandhi. (PTI)
Ahmedabad: The Congress seems to have rested its faith in the 'political dynasties' of Gujarat as far as rural heartland and its traditional bastions are concerned. The grand old party, which had given a stiff competition to the BJP in 2017 assembly elections, aims to create a similar effect in the home state of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP president Amit Shah in the 2019 parliamentary polls.
Just five days before the Congress Working Committee (CWC)'s meeting in Ahmedabad, Congress declared a list of candidates for the Lok Sabha polls, which also had four names from Gujarat — Bharatsinh Solanki, Raju Parmar, Prashant Patel and Ranjit Rathwa.
A state cabinet minister and OBC leader, Bharatsinh Solanki, is the son of former Chief Minister Madhavsinh Solanki. He had won Lok Sabha elections from Anand in 2004 and 2009, and is set to contest from the same place again.
Solanki has also been a former minister of state for drinking water and sanitation in Manmohan Singh government. He had lost 2014 polls to BJP's Dilip Patel with a margin of 63,426 votes. However, after 2014 Lok Sabha elections, scenario changed in Gujarat and Congress regained base in rural heartlands.
Anand Lok Sabha seat consists of seven assembly constituencies. In 2017 Gujarat assembly polls, Congress won five assembly seats, while BJP won two. This may have prompted Congress to renominate Solanki on this seat.
The minister is credited with improving Congress tally to 77 in 2017 Gujarat elections from 60 in the 2012 elections when he was the state party chief.
In Chhota Udepur, Congress has fielded Ranjit Rathwa, son of MLA Mohansinh Rathwa. Ranjit's father and Chhota Udepur MLA has contested 11 assembly elections since 1972 and won 10 of them, barring the 2002 election.
Ranjit Rathwa has served as Vadodara district Panchayat president, and has also been a director in Vadodara dairy. However, BJP's Ramsinh Rathwa had defeated him in 2009 and 2014. Congress has once again chosen to throw its weight behind the might of father-son.
Meanwhile, senior Congress leader Raju Parmar has been fielded for Ahmedabad West, a seat reserved for Scheduled Caste category. Parmar was an RS member and served three terms in upper house.
This seat is a BJP bastion. Saffron party's Kirit Solanki has held this seat for the two consecutive terms. Out of the seven Assembly constituencies which falls under this LS seat, only one seat was won by Congress in 2017 assembly polls.
For Vadodara, Congress has fielded new face and Patidar leader Prashant Patel. He has served as Vadodara city Congress president as well. Last time, PM Narendra Modi had won this seat with a margin of 5.70 lakh votes and is considered as a BJP bastion. The saffron party had won all the seven assembly seats which falls under Vadodara Lok Sabha seat.
Of the four seats in Gujarat for which Congress has declared candidates, Anand and, to some extent, Chhota Udepur seats are considered as grand old party's strongholds, while a tough fight is likely in the remaining two.
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