Ahead of next month’s Gujarat Assembly elections, the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) as well as the Opposition Congress have changed one candidate each — in Wadhwan and Botad seats respectively — in the Saurashtra region.
The changes were made after the candidates allotted the seats expressed their unwillingness to contest from them, leading the two parties to announce their replacement on Sunday night.
On the Wadhwan seat in Surendranagar district, the BJP has replaced Jigna Pandya with its district unit president Jagdish Makwana. In Botad, the Congress has replaced its district unit president Ramesh Mer with party spokesperson Manhar Patel.
Days after her name was announced for the Wadhwan seat, Ms. Pandya, a Brahmin, expressed her unwillingness to contest the poll and urged the BJP leadership to give a chance to some other candidate. She had not specified any reason for backing out from the race.
Wadhwan is currently held by BJP MLA Dhanjibhai Patel, a well-known businessman of Surendranagar.
After her appeal, which was in the form of a letter to the BJP leadership, the BJP on Sunday made an announcement replacing her with Jagdish Makwana, who belongs to the Sathwara (OBC) community.
On November 12, the Congress had announced that Ramesh Mer will fight polls from Botad, currently held by BJP MLA and former minister Saurabh Patel.
Unhappy over the ticket distribution, Manhar Patel reportedly rushed to meet senior Congress observer for Gujarat polls Ashok Gehlot and tried to convince him and other party leaders to consider him for the seat. He even made an appeal through Twitter, saying he was the “real candidate”.
The Opposition party took into account Manhar Patel’s representation and nominated him from the seat in place of Mr. Mer. Manhar Patel will take on BJP’s Ghanshyam Virani, who has replaced Saurabh Patel as the saffron party’s candidate.
On late Monday night, the Congress announced candidates for 33 seats which will go for polls in the second phase on December 5.
Except Mansa and Chhota Udepur Assembly segments, all the sitting MLAs have been re-nomianted from their current seats. Congress member C.J. Chavda, currently the MLA of Gandhinagar North, has now been fielded from the BJP-held Vijapur seat.
Sources have indicated Mr. Chavda himself had sought this seat transfer.
Some of the sitting MLAs who have been given tickets from their current seats include Geniben Thakor (Vav constituency), Gulabsinh Rajput (Tharad), Natha Patel (Dhanera), Kanti Kharadi (Danta-ST), Jignesh Mevani (Vadgam -SC), Raghu Desai (Radhanpur), Kirit Patel (Patel) and Rajendrasinh Thakor (Modasa).
While Leader of Opposition in the outgoing Assembly Sukhram Rathva has been given ticket from his Jetpur Pavi (ST) seat, former Gujarat Pradesh Congress president Amit Chavda has been again nominated from Anklav in Anand district.
While former Vadodara MP Satyajitsinh Gaekwad has been given ticket from the BJP-held Waghodia seat, another former MP and tribal leader Dr. Tushar Chaudhary has been chosen to contest from Khedbrahma (ST), which fell vacant in May after sitting Congress MLA Ashwin Kotwal joined the ruling party.
On the Mansa seat, the Congress has dropped sitting MLA Suresh Patel and fielded Babusinh Thakor. Suresh Patel had earlier expressed unwillingness to fight polls and said he wanted to live a retired life in the U.S. with his family.
In Chhota Udepur (ST), the Congress has given ticket to Rajya Sabha MP Naran Rathva’s son Sangramsinh Rathva. Sitting Congress MLA from Chhota Udepur, Mohansinh Rathva, resigned as a legislator a week ago and joined the BJP along with his son Rajendrasinh Rathva, who has been fielded by the saffron party from the seat.