BJP wins Gujarat elections: In this file photo Gujarat CM jokes around with a Congress candidate.
Stung by the denial of a ticket, former deputy chief minister Narhari Amin might have defected to the BJP, but the Congress is standing by its choice of candidates.
The party has shrugged off Amin's accusations of denying tickets to "competent" men. Its leaders are now fully backing Union minister CP Joshi, the chairman of the screening committee which decided whom to field in the assembly polls.
"Joshi has done a good job. By and large, the selection of candidates was proper," said a Gujarat Congress leader, who himself has been denied a ticket.
Insiders said this was the first time the party leadership had shown the courage to deny tickets to "heavyweights" whose politics revolved around proximity to some senior leaders.
"They are all spent forces," said a party insider. Besides Amin, the "heavyweights" dropped include former Ahmedabad mayor Himatsinh Patel, former minister Naresh Rawal and AICC secretary Sagar Raika.
Joshi had got three internal surveys conducted for each seat and had done his homework on the caste equations and the social and demographic profile of each seat.
Overall, the party has fielded over 35 candidates from the Patel community, 13 SC candidates for reserved seats, 26 tribals for the ST reserved seats.
It has also given more than 50 seats to OBC communities like Thakors, Kolis and OBC Kshatriyas.
In Saurashtra, he selected three sitting MPs: Porbander MP Vithalbhai Radadia, Surendranagar MP Somabhai Patel and Rajkot MP Kuvarji Bavalia. "This is a good strategy because the party has fielded leaders with mass bases," said a Congress leader.
Moreover, the Congress has given a larger share of seats to the OBCs and Patels, the two numerically significant groups.
In Jamnagar, the party has fielded three Ahir (OBC) candidates, an SC candidate, a Lohana candidate, a Kshatriya candidate and one Leuva Patel candidate. "This is a good combination that represents all the important castes," said Raghavji Patel, Congress candidate.
Another key move was to field Shankersinh Vaghela from Kapadvanj. "Vaghela's candidature will have a positive impact on at least a dozen seats in Kheda and Sabarkantha districts," said a Congress candidate from Kheda.