Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Wednesday announced the list of 21 candidates for the 26 constituencies of Gujarat, including its prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi and senior leader Lal Krishna Advani.
Gujarat chief minister Modi is going to contest from Vadodara, while former deputy prime minister Advani got the ticket from Gandhinagar. Surprisingly, three sitting MPs — including five-time winner Rajendrasinh Rana from Bhavnagar — have been ignored. And, four Congress turncoats have got the coveted BJP mandate to contest.
However, the fate of Harin Pathak — seven-time sitting MP from Ahmedabad East — hangs in balance as the candidate’s name is yet to be announced here.
The saffron party might have an upper hand against the Congress in the state, but it is striving hard to fulfill mission Vijay Vishwas — to win all 26 seats from the state. Hence, to decide the names for the battle on April 30, the Central Election Committee (CEC) took a good time to select the candidates. It also took almost a day to persuade Advani to contest from Gandhinagar and not Bhopal, as demanded by him. It should be noted that the BJP has never lost from Gandhinagar since the party came to existence.
Modi, who is fighting his first Lok Sabha election, seems to be taking every step carefully. For, after Varanasi, he chose another safe option in Vadodara — which is a BJP bastion. Since 1989, the saffron party has won five times.
The party is yet to announce candidates against Congress senior leader Shankarsinh Vaghela for Sabarkantha and against Dinsha Patel for Kheda. To maximise their chances, the BJP has given tickets to Congress turncoats, especially in Saurashtra. The list includes Vitthal Radadia (Porbandar), Devji Fatepara (Surendranagar) and Poonam Maadam (Jamnagar).
Maadam has a tough fight at hand for Jamnagar against her kin Vikram Maadam of Congress who is also the two-time sitting MP. The party, however, may be forced to choose a new candidate for Junagadh as sitting MP Dinu Bogha Solanki is accused of murder of an RTI activist. So, it is likely that Jasha Barad — former MLA from Somnath who defected from Congress — will contest from Junagadh on the BJP mandate. The party has given tickets to 10 sitting MPs, while cutting the names of three – Rana, Poonam Jat and Balkrishna Shukla — in the list announced so far. Rana has been replaced by sitting MLA from Talaja Bharat Shiyal, who is a Koli leader and has been chosen against Congress’ Pravin Rathod.
The BJP has also fielded seven sitting MLAs, including two ministers — Jasvantsinh Bhabhor and Liladhar Vaghela. So far, it has also given tickets to four women candidates in the list of 21. Now, the fate of both parties lie in the hands of 3.98 crore voters of Gujarat. The saffron party might be looking strong compared to the Congress, but the general election in Gujarat has always thrown a few surprises.
Of the 26 seats, BJP has an upper hand on 10 seats, while Congress has only five such seats. But the fight-to-finish will be seen on 10 other seats, which can swing either ways. On Wednesday, after a marathon CEC meet, party announced list of another 46 candidates from Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Bihar for the upcoming Lok Sabha election. With this, the list of total candidates announced by the BJP has now increased to 369.