Congress, BJP face protests from workers on some seats over party tickets

ByAmit Cowper and Melvyn Thomas
Nov 14, 2022 10:21 PM IST

Congress workers on Monday stormed into the Gujarat party headquarters in Ahmedabad to protest the decision to nominate sitting MLA Imran Khedawala from the Jamalpur-Khadia seat

Ahmedabad/Surat/Gandhinagar: Protests and rebellion broke out over ticket distribution by political parties on the last day of filing nomination forms for the first phase of Gujarat assembly elections to be held on December 1 for 89 (out of 182) assembly seats.

BJP candidates Kantibhai Ballar and Kumarbhai Kanani with party supporters on their way to file the nomination form for the upcoming Gujarat assembly elections, in Surat on Monday. (ANI)
BJP candidates Kantibhai Ballar and Kumarbhai Kanani with party supporters on their way to file the nomination form for the upcoming Gujarat assembly elections, in Surat on Monday. (ANI)

The Congress workers on Monday stormed into the Gujarat party headquarters in Ahmedabad and burnt posters of senior leader Bharatsinh Solanki to protest against the decision to give a ticket to sitting MLA Imran Khedawala from his Jamalpur-Khadia seat in the city.

“People are free to protest but the party will not tolerate such violence. The Gujarat Congress president has sought an inquiry into the matter and action will soon be taken against those behind the violence,” said Manish Doshi, Gujarat Congress spokesperson.

The protestors defaced the Congress office building’s walls with spray paint, mostly targeting Solanki who they accused of ignoring youth Congress leader and former councillor Shahnawaz Shaikh’s claim for this Muslim-dominated seat in Ahmedabad.

Over 250km away in Surat, it was the ruling BJP which faced protests from members of the influential Koli Patel community in the Choriyasi assembly constituency after the party leadership fielded senior BJP leader Sandeep Desai and dropped sitting MLA Zankhana Patel.

Hundreds of members of the Koli community took to the streets in Hazira, Dumas, Abhva, Bhimpore, and Magdalla’s industrial belt to protest the BJP candidate Desai. They said they were upset at the BJP leadership for fielding Desai, an Anavil Brahmin, for the Choriyasi seat. Desai is the BJP’s Surat district president and holds key positions in cooperative entities such as sugar, the Agriculture Produce Market Committee (APMC), the Surat District Bank, and others.

“Choriyasi assembly seat has more than 1.60 lakh Koli Patel voters out of 5.64 lakh voters,” said Dipak Patel, leader of the Koli Patel samaj in Hazira. Patel said the party, however, picked Sandeep Desai of a community which has less than 10,000 voters in the constituency.

He claimed that the entire Koli Patel community in the Choriyasi seat has agreed unanimously not to allow Sandeep Desai to campaign in their villages and will put up hoardings against him.

The BJP announced Desai’s candidature for the Choriyasi seat two days ago, after protracted discussions within the party on the candidate from the seat which has emerged as a BJP stronghold for the past three elections.

Choriyasi’s sitting MLA Zankhana Patel, who has been benched by the BJP, won the seat in 2017 with the state’s second-largest victory margin of 1.10 lakh votes. Zankhana Patel, daughter of heavyweight Koli Patel leader Raja Patel and former BJP MLA, won the byelection in 2016 following her father’s death from dengue in August 2015.

Most of the Choriyasi assembly segment is part of the Navsari Lok Sabha constituency, which is represented by Gujarat BJP president CR Patil. Koli and migrant voters in Choriyasi - it is an urban-rural seat and one of Surat’s largest seats- have played an important role in the BJP candidate’s victory in the past.

The Sharad Pawar-led Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) received a setback after its only sitting MLA in Gujarat, Kandhal Jadeja resigned from party posts and joined the Akhilesh Yadav-led Samajwadi Party (SP). Jadeja, who was denied ticket by the NCP for the Gujarat elections, filed his nominations from his Kutiyana seat in the Porbander district.

“I’ve quit the NCP and have joined the Samajwadi Party. The party has given me the mandate to contest for the Kutiyana seat following which I filed my nominations for the assembly elections,” Jadeja told HT.

Recently, NCP announced a pre-poll alliance with the Congress under which, it will contest from three seats - Umreth (Anand district), Naroda (Ahmedabad) and Devgadh Baria (Dahod district). In doing so, it side-stepped Jadeja’s claim to be fielded from Kutiyana seat in the Porbander district.

The BJP also has a similar problem on its hands in Waghodia after its sitting MLA Madhu Shrivastav who did not get a ticket, threatened to fight as an independent.

Waghodia goes to elections in the second phase on December 5 when 93 constituencies will vote in the second phase. The last date for filing nominations is November 17.

Srivastav has represented the seat for six straight terms since 1995. But the BJP decided to field Ashwin Patel from the constituency this time. In protest, Srivastava resigned from all party posts and decided to contest as an independent candidate

In Wadhwan of Surendranagar district, BJP initially named Jigna Pandya as its candidate but later gave the ticket to Jagdish Makwana after she declined to contest, reportedly because local party workers were against her candidature.

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