In yet another blow to BJP patriarch LK Advani, the party dumped MP Harin Pathak, who won seven times, and fielded actor Paresh Rawal from Ahmedabad (East) on Saturday.
The matter was discussed at an informal meeting at chief minister Narendra Modi's residence. The BJP also announced the names of its candidates in the remaining five seats in Gujarat.
Sitting MP Prabhatsingh Chauhan has been retained for the Panchmahal seat and Devusingh Chauhan for the Kheda seat. The party fielded Dipsinh Rathore against leader of opposition in Gujarat assembly Shankarsinh Vaghela of Congress at the Sabarkantha constituency.
Before the official announcement, Pathak said he had no idea if the party wanted to drop him. "I have no idea about the names that are being considered. I will respond to questions only after an official announcement," he said. But repeated attempts to contact him late on Saturday proved futile.
On the other hand, suporters of Rawal are happy with the development. "We were waiting for the official announcement. Now, we will burst crackers," a close aide of Rawal said.
dna could not contact Rawal and he did not respond to SMS queries. Family sources claimed the actor was busy shooting for a film in Nairobi, Kenya, and is likely to reach Ahmedabad on March 25.
Rawal campaigned for Modi and other BJP candidates during the 2012 state assembly elections.
Before Pathak, Rajendrasinh Rana (Bhavnagar) and Dr Vallabh Kathiriya (Rajkot) — both close to Advani — faced the axe. BJP workers at Ahmedabad (East) constituency, however, want Pathak. A party source said Advani was reluctant to contest from Gandhinagar and did not attend Wednesday's central election committee meeting as a mark of protest against the dropping of his loyalists.
Modi, Sushma Swaraj, Arun Jaitley and Venkaiah Naidu met Advani on Thursday and tried to placate him.