BJP releases first list of 70 candidates for Gujarat polls

BJP releases first list of 70 candidates for Gujarat polls

The BJP in Gujarat appears to have decided to bank on experience and the Patel community in the first list of 70 candidates declared by it on Friday.

The first list of candidates announced by the ruling party in Gujarat, which would contest on all the 182 Assembly seats in the elections to be held in two phases on December 9 and 14, has 49 sitting legislators. The party is fielding 15 from the Patel community.

The state electorate  will elect candidates to 89 constituencies in the first phase and the remaining 93 in the second phase.

Among those who have been renominated this time include Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani from Rajkot (West), his deputy Nitin Patel from Mehsana and state party chief Jitu Vaghani from Bhavnagar (West).

Even those experienced legislators who jumped ship from the Congress, including Raghavji Patel, Dharmendrasinh Jadeja, C K Raulji, Mansinh Chauhan and Ramsinh Parmar, have been nominated as party candidates to contest the polls.

Of the 70 candidates, 58  will contest polls in the first phase of  elections on December 9, while 12 are slated to contest in the second phase to be held on December 14.

The party has only dropped one legislator, Varshaben Joshi, who has been replaced by Dhanjibhai Patel (Makson). Interestingly, Dhanjibhai Patel  is from  the same sub-caste of Patels as that of Patel quota stir leader Hardik Patel.

This move is being seen  an attempt  to bring about a dent in Hardik's support base. The Patel quota stir in the state, that has put the  BJP on the backfoot for the last two years, also appears to have been a major factor for the party to announce the names of as many as 15 candidates from the Patel community in its first list.

The BJP has also fielded its heavyweight leader Dilip Sanghani, once a close confidante of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, from Lathi constituency.

Sanghani had in the past lost in the Amreli constituency to Paresh Dhanani of the Congress. Currently, Dhanani,  who is also  from the Patel community, is  the co-president of Gujarat Pradesh Congress Committee and is seen as  one of the chief ministerial candidates of the Congress.

The list also includes the name of P C Baranda from Bhiloda (ST) seat. Baranda, a former IPS officer, recently resigned from the service couple of days ago to join the BJP.

However, of the 70 candidates, only  four women have been accommodated so far, including Ramilaben Bara from Khedbrahma, Manishaben Vakil from Vadodara City and Sangitaben Patil from Limbayat constituencies.

The party is expected to drop more than one-third of the sitting legislators from its list of candidates contesting   these polls. It is also learnt to have decided to accomodate all the legislators who had jumped ship from the Congress to its fold.

Hence, the first list announced by the BJP is being seen as a cautious step, before it does break the hard news to its sitting legislators who would be dropped.

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