162 candidates in fray for Lok Sabha elections in Gujarat
A total of 162 candidates remain in fray for Lok Sabha polls in Gujarat on April 20 for 26 seats after 22 withdrew their nomination today.
Most of the 22 candidates who withdrew nominations today were "independents", state Election Commission officials said here.
Though other parties like Bahujan Samaj Party, Samajwadi Party have fielded their candidates, the direct fight in all the 26 constituencies is between the BJP and Congress, which hold 21 and five Lok Sabha seats respectively.
While there is a direct contest between BJP and Congress for the Godhra constituency with only two candidates in the fray, Deputy Prime Minister L K Advani's Gandhinagar seat has the highest 13 candidates, including Vitthalbhai Pandya--father of slain BJP leader Haren Pandya as an "independent" candidate.
In Godhra, the stage is set for a tussle between sitting BJP MP Bhupendrasinh Solanki and Congress candidate Rajendrasinh Patel--a former MLA, who lost his Godhra assembly seat in December 2002 polls to Bajrang Dal president Haresh Bhatt.
Of the 13 women candidates who filed their nominations, three, including a daughter of sitting Congress MLA Babubhai Meghji Shah withdrew their nominations, thus leaving nine in the fray that included two sitting BJP MPs--Union Minister of State for Tourism Bhavnaben Chikhaliya and Vadodara MP Jayaben Thakker.
While Chikhaliya is seeking her fifth consecutive term from Junagadh seat, Thakker is contesting her third parliamentary elections.
BJP has also fielded two women candidates Subhangini Gaekwad, the heir to Royal family of erstwhile princely state of Vadododara and Ramilaben Bara, a former government official in Congress bastions Kheda and Sabarkantha respectively.
Congress has also fielded a first timer Dr Prabhaben Taviad who will be contesting against sitting BJP MP Babubhai Katara from tribal-dominated Dahod (SC) constituency.