What’s happening?

The first phase of the 2012 Gujarat Legislative Assembly Election was held for 87 seats in parts of Gujarat on Thursday. The voting for the second phase will be held on December 17 and counting on December 20. In this election, 1.81 crore voters will select the 182 members of the Assembly. BJP, Congress, JD (U), Gujarat Parivartan Party, SP, BSP and RJP are the various parties contesting in the election.

Who’s Who?

Narendra Modi: The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) candidate has a strong hold in the State. He first became the chief minister of Gujarat in 2001.

Keshubhai Patel : The once-BJP leader served as Chief Minister twice from March 1995 to October 1995 and from March 1998 to October 2001. He quit BJP to launch Gujarat Parivartan Party in 2012.

Shwetha Bhatt: Congress has fielded Shweta Bhatt, wife of a suspended IPS officer Sanjiv Bhatt, to take on the Modi in his constituency Maninagar. Sanjiv Bhatt is known for his role in filing an affidavit in the Supreme Court in 2011 against Modi for his alleged role in the2002 Gujarat riots. Bhatt was later arrested.

Why is this election considered a game-changer?

All eyes are on Modi and his chances in the election. He is being promoted as the next PM candidate from BJP. His victory would be a fillip to this campaign. It is being perceived that Modi’s victory is cetain and that the question would be how much votes he would garner - lesser or more than his previous tally of 117 (out of 182) in 2007.

What are his prospects?

Modi has been appreciated for his able administration and economic policies in the State. The BJP leader has strategically worked on his image to attract middle class population. He has been seen as the face of Gujarat. His ‘Golden Gujarat' propaganda has been a success and has gained him unconditional support.

How could Modi be defeated?

Modi could probably fall due to his unpopularity among rural Gujarat and his saffron image. Modi has been criticised for his insufficient action over the Godhra riots, a communal riot that broke between Hindus and Muslims in 2002, which killed thousands. He was infact suspected of encouraging them.

Who are the other potential PM candidates from BJP?

The potentialprime ministerial candidatesinclude senior BJP leaders such as Sushma Swaraj, L.K. Advani and Arun Jaitley.