A day ahead of Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi’s short tour of Gujarat, the party’s Palitana legislator Pravin Rathod won his claim to contest from the Bhavnagar Lok Sabha seat during the Congress primaries floated by Mr Gandhi.

Bhavnagar was picked among 16 Lok Sabha seats in the country where Rahul Gandhi has experimented on primaries to decide the Congress party’s candidates. Bhavnagar is the ninth such seat across India.

As many as 562 votes were cast during the elections and Pravin Rathod polled 303 likes, while three other candidates managed to get almost less than half of these votes together.

Mr Rathod is now the Congress candidate for the prestigious Bhavnagar seat, from where former Leader of Opposition Shaktisinh Gohil lost the assembly elections during the 2012 polls. The legislator claimed, speaking to mediapersons later, that all the three candidates who lost the primaries against him had expressed his solidarity with him for the elections.

During the primaries, the list of voters was drawn from office-bearers of the All India Congress Committee (AICC) and the Gujarat Pradesh Congress Committee (GPCC), besides presidents of Taluka Congress Committees, MLAs, councilors and corporators and others. Village sarpanches were also involved in the process.

Congress sources said Vadodara is the other Lok Sabha seat in Gujarat where primaries would be held on March 13 to decide the candidate to take on the Bharatiya Janata Party’s contestant.

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