BJP drops about half of 2017 candidates in Gujarat 1st list

Image credit: The Hindu

Five members of the one-year-old Bhupendra Patel administration were passed over. The list includes Morbi MLA Brijesh Merja, who appeared to be blamed for the district’s October 30 suspension footbridge collapse that left 135 people dead, and Rajendra Trivedi, who is known as the No. 2 in the cabinet. Nima Acharya, the first female speaker in Gujarat, too did not receive a ticket.

On the 160-name list, 19 names, or 12%, are those of Congressmen who have defected over the last five years.

The Ahmedabad municipal corporation area appeared to be where the saffron party’s no-repeat policy appeared to be the harshest, when it declared nominees for 15 out of 16 seats, keeping only CM Patel and two incumbent MLAs. There is no announced contender for the Vatva seat.

Except for Surat, there were mainly newcomers in the eight municipal corporation areas. The BJP’s nominees for all four seats in Rajkot were altered. In Vadodara, three of the five urban seats changed. For a total of 21 of the 39 urban seats for which it had chosen candidates, the party ran newcomers.

The reason the BJP is confident in maintaining its stellar performance in the urban belt, where it won 40 out of 46 seats in 2017, despite not running candidates in the majority of those seats, is because its urban strongholds have a history of voting for the party rather than the nominee, according to sources.

In Surat, where AAP is viewed as a threat that would require names with a track record, the BJP kept nine of the 11 in-office MLAs. The first list was released a day after a dozen senior BJP officials, including former CM Rupani and his former deputy, Nitin Patel, decided not to run for office.

While OBC rights campaigner Alpesh Thakor hopes to be chosen by the BJP for Gandhinagar (South) or Radhanpur, Hardik Patel, who was a pain in the BJP’s side in 2017, will make his election debut in Viramgam under the saffron banner.

According to BJP state president Paatil, the remaining candidates for the seats will be revealed in a day or two. He asserted that the AAP was nonexistent on the ground and would, at most, take votes from other parties.

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