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Waiting in the wings for political debut in Gujarat

Sunday, 7 October 2012 - 1:52pm IST | Place: Ahmedabad | Agency: dna

With the Election Commission announcing Gujarat assembly election polls, there is speculation about which party would field whom.

Shweta Bhatt, wife of Sanjiv Bhatt
On GPP ticket from Ellisbridge

The buzz is that Shweta Bhatt, wife of suspended IPS officer Sanjiv Bhatt, will contest the assembly polls from Ellisbridge constituency as a candidate of the Gujarat Parivartan Party (GPP).

She is educated and is a housewife but she is also the wife of the whistleblower cop who accused chief minister Narendra Modi of complicity in the 2002 riots. Her views on the Modi government are well-known.

She is believed to have the support of the Brahmin lobby which had come out in her support after Bhatt was arrested by the government. Shweta carries a clean image and can move voters in the urban areas for the GPP which is considered a party of rural areas.

“Talks are on and she is being considered as a possible GPP candidate but it is a bit early to confirm anything,” said a close aide of Keshubhai Patel.

RM Patel, former bureaucrat
On BJP ticket from Asarva

Rajanikant M Patel was additional chief secretary in state the Panchayat department when he took voluntary retirement earlier this year.

Patel is yet to confirm that he intends to contest the assembly elections but after the government accepted his application for voluntary retirement, the likelihood of his contesting the poll on a BJP ticket has become stronger.

He is likely to be fielded by the BJP from Asarva assembly constituency in Ahmedabad city. Patel is credited with coming up with the idea of Garib Kalyan Melas which helped the chief minister gain a foothold in the rural areas of the state.

Sources in the BJP said that if Patel wins and Narendra Modi goes on to form the next government, Patel will be rewarded with a berth in the state cabinet.

Zafar Sareshwala, businessman
On BJP ticket from Juhapura

The Mumbai-based Muslim businessman from Gujarat, Zafar Sareshwala, is likely to be the BJP’s candidate from Juhapura constituency in the assembly elections. He is believed to be close to chief minister Narendra Modi.

If sources are to be believed, it was he who had arranged for Modi to be interviewed by Shahid Siddiqui for an Urdu media.

However, he denies having any plans to contest the elections. “It’s a joke as I am a bizman far away from politics. From what I have been told, BJP already has a candidate for Juhapura and I am not in the picture,” he said.

The CEO and MD of Parsoli Corporation, Saraswala has distributorship of BMW in Ahmedabad. Though he is now a resident of Mumbai, Sareshwala has his roots near Bharuch.

During 2002 riots, he had distributed lakhs of rupees among the poor in affected areas.

ZA Sacha, former AMC official
Seeking BJP ticket

ZA Sacha, currently posted in the planning and implementation unit (PIU) of Civil Hospital, belongs to the Muslim community. He is believed to be keen on contesting the assembly elections on a BJP ticket.

For many years, Sacha was a dy municipal commissioner of AMC.

Interestingly, he attended CM Modi’s Sadbhavana fast in Ahmedabad last year, dressed as an Arab. He was appointed as officer on special duty at the Civil Hospital after the outbreak of dengue on the hospital campus in October 2011, to supervise the cleanliness work on the campus.

He also heads a joint management committee of hospitals and colleges, officials, students and resident doctors, to solve short-term and long-term campus related problems.

Dr Nayna Patel, IVF expert
On BJP ticket from Anand

Dr Nayna Patel, famous for her work as an ‘In Vitro Fertilisation’ (IVF) expert, may be fielded by the BJP from Anand seat. She is a Lohana by birth but is married to Dr Hitesh Patel, a Leuva Patel.

Leuvas comprise a large voter group in the Charotar region. Dr Nayna Patel is believed to be well-networked with elite and medical circle of Anand and adjoining areas. Further, she has great influence on women of poorer sections in Anand because of her work as a surrogacy surgeon and also through welfare activities.

She is the daughter of Ratilal Tanna, an active Congress politician in Saursahtra. When DNA asked her whether she was planning to enter politics, she said that she had grown up seeing veteran politicians visiting her home in Rajkot.

Narendra Somani, Hotelier
On BJP ticket from Naroda

The name of Narendra Somani, the well-known hotelier, is making the rounds in BJP circles as a possible candidate from Naroda constituency.

The BJP began considering him for Naroda after sitting BJP MLA from Naroda, Dr Maya Kodnani, was convicted in the Naroda Patia riot case. Like Kodnani, Somani is also a Sindhi and is considered the best candidate for Naroda which is a Sindhi-dominated constituency.

Further, Somani heads the Hotel Owners’ Association and has considerable influence on business circles in Ahmedabad. He is also believed to be close to CM Narendra Modi.

When contacted by DNA for his comments, Somani said that he was being asked by the Sindhi community to contest the elections. “And if the CM  invites me to contest on a BJP ticket, I might contest the elections,” he said.

Juhi Chawla, actor
BJP choice for Porbandar

Despite her refusal to contest elections, noted film actress Juhi Chawla continues to be the BJP’s first choice for Porbandar assembly constituency.

A senior BJP leader said that senior party leaders are trying to persuade her to contest the elections on a BJP ticket from Porbandar.

“The party believes that she is the natural choice for Porbandar as she is married to Jay Mehta, grandson of Nanji Kalidas Mehta, an entrepreneur who spread the spirit of Gujarat across the globe,” the BJP leader said.

Nanji Kalidas Mehata established the Mehta group of companies which has businesses in Asia, Africa, US and Canada. The family also takes part in many charitable activities in Porbandar.  In July, Juhi Chawla had issued a public statement saying that she does not want to take part in active politics.

SS Khandwawala, former DGP

On BJP ticket from Jamalpur

In a bid to acquire a secular face, the BJP is thinking of fielding some prominent Muslims from different constituencies. The name of former Gujarat DGP SS Khandwawala is doing the rounds in BJP circles as a candidate for the Jamalpur constituency.

Here Khandwawala will be pitted against Congress candidate Shabir Kabliwala. Sources in the BJP indicated that despite being a Muslim, Khadwawala is seen as someone who is acceptable to the ruling party.

The sources further said that the BJP began thinking of fielding a Muslim candidate from Jamalpur after Khadia constituency was merged with Jamalpur during the latest delimitation exercise. This may come as bad news for the sitting MLA from Khadia, Bhushan Bhatt, who is son of former speaker Ashok Bhatt.

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