BJP may field new candidates, Cong likely to repeat sitting MLAs in Gujarat polls | Hindustan Times
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BJP may field new candidates, Cong likely to repeat sitting MLAs in Gujarat polls

The BJP is holding a six-day state-level parliamentary board meeting that will conclude on Thursday, and senior Congress leaders left for Delhi to prepare the list of candidates.

GujaratElection2017 Updated: Oct 25, 2017 22:43 IST
Hiral Dave
Chief election commissioner AK Joti, flanked by election commissioners Sunil Arora and OP Rawat (left), announces the schedule for the Gujarat assembly elections, at a press conference in New Delhi on Wednesday.
Chief election commissioner AK Joti, flanked by election commissioners Sunil Arora and OP Rawat (left), announces the schedule for the Gujarat assembly elections, at a press conference in New Delhi on Wednesday.(PTI)

The BJP is expected to introduce a number of new faces in its list of candidates for the Gujarat assembly polls in December, while the Congress looks set to repeat its sitting MLAs as part of an earlier promise.

The Election Commission’s announcement of the election dates gave rise to hectic political activity in both the camps. The BJP is already in the middle of a six-day state-level parliamentary board meeting that will conclude on Thursday. On the other hand, senior Congress leaders have left for Delhi to prepare the party’s list of candidates.

Sources said the saffron party, which is battling anti-incumbency in the state, is likely to project several former aides of Patidar quota stir leader Hardik Patel – including Varun Patel and Reshma Patel – in its efforts to woo members of the influential community. The duo had joined the BJP recently.

On the other hand, the fate of 44 Patidar MLAs in the BJP camp is looking particularly precarious at a time when the community is up in arms against the party leadership over non-fulfilment of its demand for OBC status.

Chief minister Vijay Rupani had already dropped several Patidar heavyweights – including Saurabh Patel and Rajnikant Patel – while forming his cabinet in August 2016.

The BJP, which lost the 2015 rural local body elections in the backdrop of the Patidar agitation, was unhappy that MLAs from the community not only failed to gauge the scale of the movement but also fell woefully short in containing it.

According to sources, OBC leader Alpesh Thakor and some of his team members – who were formally inducted into the party earlier this week – may emerge as new faces from the Congress. They were formally inducted into the party earlier this week.

“The selection of candidates for the Congress will be done on merit,” said senior party leader Arjun Modhwadia, reiterating that all its 43 sitting MLAs would be “repeated”.

The Congress had assured its sitting MLAs of re-candidacy when six of them quit ahead of the Rajya Sabha polls in August, endangering the electoral prospects of veteran leader Ahmed Patel. Despite this, eight of its sitting MLAs cross-voted and, later, resigned. Twelve have already joined the BJP.

While the BJP is unlikely to drop senior Patidar leaders like deputy chief minister Nitin Patel, they will be subject to greater scrutiny. It may be recalled that Dalit leader Ramanlal Vora was removed from the cabinet and appointed as the assembly speaker in the wake of the Una controversy, when four lower caste youngsters were assaulted by alleged cow vigilantes.

“The parliamentary board meetings will end on Thursday. Panels will come up with a list of probables for each seat in the next stage, following which the final list will be announced from Delhi,” said Rupani.

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