Gujarat CM Narendra Modi’s surprising choice of Vadodara as his second parliamentary constituency is apparently meant to establish BJP’s hold in the five neighbouring seats in central and south Gujarat regions.
Modi's decision to fast for "harmony" followed the Supreme Court's decision to send back a 2002 riots case to the trial court.
Modi was widely expected to run from Ahmedabad East Lok Sabha, besides Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh, because his assembly seat Maninagar is part of Ahmedabad East, which is currently represented by BJP veteran Harin Pathak, whose candidature for 2014 polls has not yet been decided by the party.
But Modi chose Vadodara, which was also not entirely unexpected, as Vadodara and Surat were being speculated as the second destination for the saffron party’s top leader and PM nominee.
“There are several factors behind choosing Vadodara for Modi. The main factor is that it will have positive impacts on three-four neighbouring seats in central Gujarat like Anand, Kheda, Dahod — all three held by the Congress and Panchmahal, which the BJP won last time with a slender margin of only 2000 votes,” a BJP leader involved in the candidate selection process said.
According to him, the central Gujarat remains a stronghold of Congress because the Anand, Kheda and Dahod seats have traditionally been held by the party. “If the BJP wants to win 22-23 seats in Gujarat, it has to wrest the central Gujarat seats from the Congress.”
The Anand Lok Sabha seat is represented by Union minister Bharatsinh Solanki, son of former chief minister Madhavsinh Solanki. Anand is considered to be one of the safest seats for the Congress in the state, as before Solanki, his maternal grandfather Ishwarbhai Chavda had represented it in Parliament for five times.
Similarly, the Kheda seat is held by another Union minister Dinsha Patel, who has been winning from there since 1998.
Though the BJP had won from Panchmahal in the 2009 Lok Sabha polls with a slender margin, the Congress is strong is three-four assembly segments, which are part of the Panchmahal parliamentary seat.