Gujarat elections: Congress releases first list of candidates, includes at least 20 Patidars
The Congress party on Sunday released the first list of its 77 candidates for the Gujarat Assembly election with senior state leaders Shaktisinh Gohil and Arjun Modhwadia getting tickets for the crucial polls in December.
Besides the old guards, the list also features a former member of the Hardik Patel-lead Patidar Anamat Aandolan Samiti (PAAS).
There are at least 20 Patidars, 20 OBCs and 7 Dalits in the list. The party has also renominated 12 sitting legislators. The Patidar focus in the list clearly reflects the Congress’ strategy to reap dividends from the PAAS-led agitation against the ruling BJP for OBC status.
Given their widespread agitation for OBC status, for the first time the BJP is unsure about the unflinching support of Patidars, who have been loyal to it for three decades
Of the 89 seats going to the polls in first phase on December 9, the Congress declared candidates for 77, after the BJP having declared 106 candidates in two phases over the last two days. Gujarat has 182 assembly constituencies.
The Congress list does not include those seats where it is in seat-sharing negotiations with the NCP and Chhotu Vasava-led JD(U) in Gujarat.
Along with sitting MLAs, the Congress has also brought back in the fray former MPs like Soma Patel from Limbdi, Kunwarji Bawalia from Jasdan and Virji Thumar from Lathi.
Lalit Vasoya, co-convener of PAAS, has been given ticket from Dhoraji. Vasoya resigned from the PAAS just a couple of hours before the list was declared.
In fact, a few hours before the list was released, the PAAS and Congress also declared that they had arrived at a consensus on the reservation formula for Patidars and that an announcement on the same will be made on Monday.
The Congress has repeated 12 sitting MLAs in keeping with it declared intent that all 43 sitting MLAs will be renominated after they remained loyal to the party during the bitter Rajya Sabha elections held in August.
But heavyweight Shanktisinh Gohil will not contest from his current seat Abdasa, moving instead to Mandvi in Kutch district. Similarly, Indranil Rajyaguru will move from Rajkot East to Rajkot west to take on the BJP chief minster Vijay Rupani.
Former state president Arjun Modhwadia will again contest from Porbandar, a seat he had lost in the 2012 assembly elections.
Meanwhile, the official announcement about the nitty-gritty of the reservation formula and the PAAS’ stand on supporting the Congress during the Gujarat polls will be announced by Hardik Patel at a public gathering in Rajkot on Monday, PAAS convener Dinesh Bambhania said after the crucial meeting on the issue.
Hardik Patel was not present in the meeting. “Earlier, we had asked the Congress to clarify how they would grant Patidars a constitutionally valid reservation. Today, we held a crucial meeting on that issue and finally reached a consensus on various options offered by the party to us. Official announcement of this agreement will be made by Hardik tomorrow in Rajkot,” said Bambhania, a key aide of Hardik Patel.