GANDHINAGAR : The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Friday announced its first list of 70 candidates for the first phase of the Gujarat Assembly elections, giving tickets to six of the defecting Congress MLAs. Staying ahead of the opposition party in the announcement, the saffron party list shows that it has repeated most of the sitting MLAs in their constituencies.
The noteworthy fact about the list is that six of the 14 Congress MLAs who had defected to the saffron party in August have been given tickets to contest from their constituencies.
It remains to be seen how the opposition Congress party reacts to it and how it challenges it before the Election Commission of India (ECI) and in the judiciary regarding the anti-defection law.
In the list, the saffron party has mostly repeated its sitting MLAs - contrary to what was speculated. It was speculated, and as the duo of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and party chief Amit Shah have been known for, that many of the sitting MLAs will be denied tickets.
Chief Minister Vjay Rupani has been nominated to contest from his traditional Rajkot West constituency, while Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel will contest from Mehsana, his traditional constituency, and state BJP chief Jitubhai Vaghani will contest from Bhavnagar West.
Earlier, Jitu Vaghani had refused to contest the election.
Surprisingly and contrary to speculation, both the Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS) members, Varun Patel and Reshma Patel, have not been included in the first list of candidates.
Two BJP MLAs, Vadhwan constituency's Varshaben Doshi, and BJP MLA from Dhari constituency, Nalin Kotadia, have been dropped. Instead, Dhanjibhai Patel is to contest from Vadhwan and Dileep Sanghani will be contesting from Dhari.
On Thursday afternoon, BJP national president Amit Shah had summoned the party leaders at the state headquarters for a meeting, which continued till late night. The meeting was attended by state BJP president Vaghani, Deputy Chief Minister Patel, state Home Minister Pradeepsinh Jadeja and leader Bhikhubhai Dalsania.
On Friday morning, the BJP chief held a meeting with Prime Minister Modi and other senior leaders of the party in Delhi as well as Gujarat senior leaders, before announcing the list.
The state goes to polls in December, where the first phase for 89 seats will be held on the 9th and for the remaining 93 seats it will be held on the 14th. The results will be announced along with that of Himachal Pradesh on December 18.