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Chief minister to Congress veteran: 5 key candidates of Gujarat elections’ first phase

The big names of state politics face off in the first phase of polls.

assembly elections Updated: Dec 09, 2017 07:39 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Gandhinagar
Gujarat assembly elections,Vijay Rupani,Arjun Modhwadia
A beautician gives finishing touches as she paints 'Electronic Voting Machine' (EVM) on the hair of a woman ahead of the Gujarat assembly election, in Ahmedabad.(AFP)

Gujarat will vote in the first part of the two-phase assembly elections on Saturday, with 2.12 crore voters selecting candidates in in 89 seats of Saurashtra and South Gujarat. Here are key candidates in the first phase.

Vijay Rupani (BJP)

Vijay Rupani, 61, BJP: The chief minister is banking on his network and party workers, whom he has cultivated in his three-decade-old association with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), to retain the Rajkot West seat. Rupani’s wife Anjali, who is the general secretary of the BJP’s woman wing, holds fort in Rajkot West in his absence. The BJP has never lost Rajkot West since 1985, but the entry of Congress leader Indranil Rajyaguru, who gave up his Rajkot East seat to challenge Rupani, has made the contest interesting. Rupani has contested elections only once before, winning Rajkot West in a 2015 byelection.

Arjun Modhwadia (Cong)

Arjun Modhwadia, 60, Congress: This is being seen as a make or break election for this former president of the Gujarat Congress. The party has fielded him once again from Porbandar, which he lost in 2012 to the BJP. Modhwadia has a clean imange and is banking on the support of the Kharwas, a community which has significant presence in Porbandar. Modhwadia has a clean image and is well liked for being a soft-spoken leader.

Saurabh Patel (BJP)

Saurabh Patel, 59, BJP: This heavyweight minister in the Anandiben Patel government was sidelined after being dropped from the Vijay Rupani ministry in 2016. Patel, who has an MBA, was instrumental in organising Vibrant Gujarat summits as minister. He is back to Botad, a constituency which has a mixed population of Patels and OBCs. Patel, who belongs to the Leuva Patel caste, won Botad in 2007 by a thin margin. He shifted to Akota in Vaodara city in the 2012 assembly elections, winning by a comfortable margin.

Shaktisinh Gohil (Cong)

Shaktisinh Gohil, 57, Congress: Gohil, along with Gujarat Congress president Bharatsinh Solanki, was credited with keeping 43 party MLAs intact after 14 legislators either joined the BJP or cross voted in the August Rajya Sabha elections. Again due to his alertness, two cross votes were disqualified and this helped Congress veteran Ahmed Patel win in the elections. Gohil, a Kshatriya leader, is contesting from Mandvi in Kutch district. He lost the 2012 assembly elections from Bhavnagar Rural and won from Abdasa in Kutch in a 2014 byelection.

Chhotubhai Vasava, 72, Bhartiya Tribal Party: Vasava, a tribal leader, and his son Mahesh have formed the Bhartiya Tribal Party and have a seat-sharing agreement with the Congress. His party is contesting from five seats reserved for STs. Vasava is contesting from Jhagadiya in Bharuch, the home district of Ahmed Patel. Vasava, a Janata Dal (United) legislator, voted in favour of Ahmed Patel in the Rajya Sabha elections. Mahesh has filed his nomination from Dediapada in Narmada.

First Published: Dec 09, 2017 07:39 IST