BJP happy with Modi nominees; Cong a divided house in Gujarat

When the ruling BJP announced its first list of 84 candidates for the Assembly polls in December, the message wasn’t lost out on anyone. Top of the list was Chief Minister Narendra Modi, who will be contesting from Maninagar constituency for the second consecutive time.

The BJPs list came at a time when opposition Congress was still grappling with dissensions after it announced its first list of 52 candidates.

Causing much embarrassment to the opposition was the fact that it had to withdraw a second list of 47 candidates after major revolt which saw workers gathering at the Congress headquarters in Ahmedabad and creating a ruckus, upset at their leaders being denied a ticket.

Around the same time, Modi was attending a meeting of the central election committee in Delhi, getting a stamp of approval for the BJP’s list which he himself had prepared.

Interestingly, he had pitted controversial party leader and minister, Purshottam Solanki, against Leader of the Opposition, Shaktisinh Gohil from the Bhavnagar rural constituency.
The BJPs first list has over 25 sitting MLAs and about a dozen ministers. The party also got a shot in the arm when a prominent Ahir candidate from Jamnagar, Poonam Madam, niece of a sitting Congress MP, Vikram Madam, crossed over to BJP and expectedly was given a ticket to contest from Dasada seat in Saurashtra.

Ironically, the Congress was first to release the list but after bickering within the party, withdrew its second list. For the first phase it had declared 22 candidates and party leaders claimed that caste composition and winnability played an important factor.

Senior Congress leader Madhusudan Mistry admitted that some candidates have been repeated though they did not win the elections previous time but this time around things were different.

Resentment within party

He said: “There is a resentment amongst people against the sitting MLAs, so we have carefully chosen candidates who will turn it around for us in their respective constituencies.’’

He said that once the second list was out, which would include candidates primarily for the first phase, active campaigning would begin. The BJP on the other hand seemed satisfied with its first list. BJP spokesperson Vijay Rupani said, ``The selection of candidates was done on the basis of caste and winnability.’’ He said that the crossover of leaders like Madam is definitely an advantage for the party as these were some of the sure shot seats that the party was counting on.

The Congress has allocated nine of the 182 seats to its ally Nationalist Congress Party (NCP). The seat-sharing between the two parties was finalised after talks between NCP leader Praful Patel and Congress counterpart Ahmed Patel here on Thursday, NCP General Secretary D P Tripathi said.

Congress had withdrawn its second list of candidates within two hours of its release without citing any reasons. Later, Congress General Secretary Oscar Fernandes attributed the AICC move to the alliance with NCP. A fresh second list will be released on Friday, he said.

In 2007 assembly polls in the state, the Congress had given eight seats to the NCP. NCP chief Sharad Pawar had demanded an increase in the number of seats this time. The NCP has three sitting MLAs in the state.

PCC chief in a spot for monkey remark

The Election Commission has issued a show cause notice to Gujarat Congress president Arjun Modhwadia for his remarks on the personal life of Chief Minister Narendra Modi and also for comparing him with a monkey. Modhwadia has been told to file his reply by Saturday.

The complaint was filed by BJP MP and state unit General Secretary Balkrishna Shukla after Modhwadia’s speech on November 2 in Vadodara. The notice said that Modhwadia's remarks prima facie violated Model Code of Conduct which prohibits personal attacks on the leaders of rival political parties. Modhwadia, in a public meeting in Vadodara, had criticised Modi for targeting Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and also took a dig at Modi for his remarks on Sunanda Pushkar, wife of Union Minister Shashi Tharoor.

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