BJP and Congress face dissent and rebellion over choice of candidates for Gujarat poll

Both parties engage in damage control exercises, giving into popular demand in a few seats even as other remain contested

November 14, 2022 10:43 pm | Updated 10:44 pm IST - AHMEDABAD

BJP election symbol flags on the hut wall in Devrajiya Village in Saurashtra, Gujarat, on November 13, 2022. Gujarat Assembly election will be held on December 01 and 05, 2022.

BJP election symbol flags on the hut wall in Devrajiya Village in Saurashtra, Gujarat, on November 13, 2022. Gujarat Assembly election will be held on December 01 and 05, 2022. | Photo Credit: Vijay Soneji

The ruling BJP and opposition Congress, whose leaders are engaged in candidate selection in the State, are facing dissidents in several seats. While the ruling party is yet to name 16 candidates for the crucial seats in Ahmedabad and North Gujarat, the Opposition party has not named more than 30 candidates for Central and North Gujarat regions.

The BJP faces dissidence and rebellion by party cadre in around a dozen seats in South Gujarat and Saurashtra.

On Monday, more than 1,000 supporters of former MLA Dhawal Zala arrived at the State BJP headquarters in Gandhinagar, demanding that Mr. Zala be declared as the candidate for Bayad seat in North Gujarat. The party has selected former MLA Bhikhiben over Mr. Zala.

Similarly, supporters of former minister Ranchhod Rabari held a show of strength in Patan, demanding nomination for Mr. Rabari after the local media reported that the former minister was unlikely to be fielded by the party, which is yet to name the candidate for Patan.

The Congress, on its part, had angry workers rush to the party headquarters in the city after it released the candidate list late Sunday night. The party workers demanded changes in several seats like Vatva in Ahmedabad city.

On Sunday, both BJP and Congress were forced to change the candidates for Vadhwan and Botad seats.

The BJP had first announced Jignaben Pandya for the Vadhwan seat in Saurashtra but supporters of Jagdish Makwana, an OBC leader and Surendranagar district BJP president, held protests, forcing the party to replace Mr. Pandya with Mr. Makwana.

Similarly in Botad, the Opposition party first named Ramesh Mer as its candidate but the supporters of another contender Manhar Patel threatened to work against the party if the latter were not fielded. Subsequently, the party replaced Mr. Mer, a OBC leader, with Manhar Patel, a Patidar.

To manage the dissidents, the Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Sunday evening held a marathon meeting with the State leaders in an effort at damage control.

On Monday, two former legislators Jagat Vasava from Dediapada and Mohan Vala from Kodinar resigned from the party after they were denied tickets.

Elections for the 182 member Gujarat Assembly will be held in two phases on December 1 and 5. The counting of votes will be taken up on December 8.

For the first phase, 89 seats of Saurashtra and South Gujarat will go for polling on December 1. Monday was the last day for filing of nominations. For the remaining 91 seats of second phase, the polling will be held on December 5 and November 17 is the last day of filing for nomination.

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