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Mahesh Langa, Hindustan Times
Ahmedabad, November 16, 2012
The ruling BJP and opposition Congress are set to announce next week their candidates for the first phase of assembly polls on December 13.
Of the 182 seats in Gujarat, polling for 87 in Saurashtra and south Gujarat will be held in the first phase, four days before the second and final phase.

“We will announce the first list on November 21-22. Chief minister Narendra Modi, in consultation with the party’s national parliamentary board, will pick up candidates from the panels the state body has submitted,” state BJP general secretary Vijay Rupani said on Thursday.

Senior BJP leader Arun Jaitley visited Gujarat and met Modi to give final shape to the list.

The Congress list is likely to be announced on November 22. Gujarat Congress president Arjun Modhvadia and leader of the opposition in the assembly, Shaktisinh Gohil, were in Delhi for two days before Diwali to finalise the candidates.

November 24 is the last day for filing nomination papers for the first phase. Saurashtra and south Gujarat have traditionally been BJP bastions. With 52 seats spread in seven districts, Saurashtra region sends the largest number of BJP MLAs to the legislature.

But drought, suicides of more than 36 debt-ridden farmers and the rebellion of former chief minister Keshubhai Patel are likely to worry the BJP this time around. The Leuva Patel community to which Keshubhai Patel belongs plays a decisive role in more than 15 seats in Saurashtra.

In south Gujarat, the BJP is not too sure-footed in the tribal pockets of Narmada, Tapi, Valsad, Navsari and Dangs. The party, however, has a formidable presence in Surat’s urban seats.