Congress relies on its current and former MLAs in Gujarat

In the wake of a mass exodus of its leaders to the ruling BJP, the Congress is relying heavily on experienced MLAs; two seats have been given to the AAP, its INDIA alliance partner

Updated - April 17, 2024 09:14 pm IST

Published - April 17, 2024 08:28 pm IST - AHMEDABAD

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi addresses the crowd during the ongoing ‘Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra’, in Vyara on March 10. Credit: AICC

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi addresses the crowd during the ongoing ‘Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra’, in Vyara on March 10. Credit: AICC | Photo Credit: ANI

The Congress has fielded five sitting legislators and seven former legislators in Gujarat, where it’s contesting 24 seats, while two seats have been given to its INDIA bloc partner, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP). 

In the wake of a mass exodus of its leaders to the ruling BJP, the Opposition party is relying heavily on its sitting and former legislators to take on the saffron party, which won all 26 Lok Sabha seats from the State in the 2014 and 2019 General Elections, riding on the popularity of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who hails from the State. 

The party’s sitting MLAs in the fray are Amit Chavda from the Anand Lok Sabha seat, Geniben Thakor from Banaskantha, Tushar Chaudhary from Sabarkantha, Anant Patel from Valsad, and Gulabsinh Chauhan from Panmahal. 

Among the party’s former legislators are Himatsinh Patel from Ahmedabad East, Rutvik Makwana from Surendranagar, Paresh Dhanani from Rajkot, Lalit Vasoya from Porbandar, Chandanji Thakor from Patan, Jashpalsinh Padhiyar from Vadodara, Sukhram Rathwa from Chhota Udepur, and Bharat Makwana from Ahmedabad West. 

Two seats have been given to the AAP, which has fielded two of its sitting MLAs — Chaitar Vasava from Bharuch, and Umesh Makwana from Bhavnagar. 

The Congress has given prominence to Other Backward Classes (OBCs) by fielding six Thakor Kshatriya candidates in the north and central Gujarat regions. 

In north Gujarat, the party has fielded Ms. Geniben Thakor from Banaskantha, a seat with the largest number of Thakor votes where, for the first time, a leader from the Thakor community has been given a ticket. 

In Patan and Mehsana, too, the party has fielded Thakors, while in neighbouring Sabarkantha, tribal leader Mr. Tushar Chaudhary, legislator from the Khedbrahma ST reserved seat, has been nominated. Mr. Chaudhary is a former Union Minister and son of the late former Chief Minister Amarsinh Chaudhary. 

Sabarkantha has been a pocket borough of Mr. Tushar Chaudhary’s family; his mother has also been an MP from the seat. “All these faces are recognised in their areas and have connect with the local communities,” a party leader said. 

In Gandhinagar, the party has fielded the former president of the Gujarat Mahila Congress Sonal Patel against Union Home Minister Amit Shah. 

In Saurashtra, the Congress has given four seats to the influential Leuva Patel community in Rajkot, Jamnagar, Amreli, and Porbandar.  In Rajkot, the party has fielded former Leader of the Opposition in the State Assembly Paresh Dhanani against Union Minister Parshottam Rupala. Both candidates are from Amreli district, and Mr. Dhanani had defeated Mr. Rupala in 2002 in the Assembly election from Amreli when Mr. Rupala was a sitting Cabinet Minister in the Gujarat government. 

In Porbandar, former legislator and Leuva Patel leader Lalit Vasoya has been fielded against Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandavia, also a Leuva Patel leader from Bhavnagar district. 

In Junagadh, the Opposition party has fielded Hira Jotva, a leader from the Ahir community. He will take on the sitting MP from the BJP, Rajesh Chudasama, who belongs to the Koli community. 

In Amreli, the Congress candidate is Jenny Thummar, president of the Gujarat Mahila Congress. Ms. Thummar is daughter of the former parliamentarian Virji Thummar, who has also been a legislator several times. 

Against her is the BJP’s Bharat Sutariya, a district panchayat leader contesting the parliamentary election for the first time. 

In the Surendranagar seat, which is dominated by the Koli community, the Opposition party has fielded Rutwik Makwana, former legislator and working president of the State Congress. 

In Jamnagar, the Congress has fielded a Leuva Patel leader and district panchayat member against BJP’s sitting MP Poonam Maadam, a two-time parliamentarian coming from a politically active family — her late father was a three-time independent legislator from the district. 

In central Gujarat, the party has fielded its former parliamentarian Prabhaben Tavaiad from the tribal reserved Dahod seat. She was elected to the Lok Sabha in 2004 and 2009. 

In Anand, the Congress has fielded Amit Chavda, the Leader of the Opposition in the State Assembly. Mr. Chavda has been MLA since 2004. His grandfather Ishwarbhai Chavda was a noted freedom fighter, and the MP from Anand, several times. 

Mr. Chavda is contesting a Lok Sabha seat for the first time, after his cousin former Union Minister Bharat Solanki declined to contest the election this time. Mr. Solanki was the Anand MP for 10 years from 2004-2014. 

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