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Gujarat Election 2017

BJP 1st candidate list shows party cautious about Patels

BJP announced candidates for only 70 of the 182 seats that go to polls in the two phases on December 9 and 14. It is reportedly waiting for the Congress list.

Updated: Nov 18, 2017, 04.06 PM IST
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With the Gujarat elections revolving around the issue of development, quotas and jobs for the youth, BJP has fielded 16 new faces in the first list.
With the Gujarat elections revolving around the issue of development, quotas and jobs for the youth, BJP has fielded 16 new faces in the first list.
NEW DELHI: That BJP is not taking the Patel agitation in Gujarat lightly became clear from its first list of candidates announced on Friday evening as the sole sitting MLA who has been denied a ticket has been replaced by a Patel while 15 of the 70 names are from this caste.

Varshben Doshi, who represented Wadhwan constituency, has been replaced by Dhanjibhai Patel (Makson). Though this seat has a Brahmin dominance, BJP has fielded a Patel candidate this time, obviously in view of the Hardik Patel-led quota agitation for Patidars.

Of the 70 candidates announced on Friday, 15 are Patels and the number is likely to cross 40 though BJP will take a call on who should be fielded depending on the caste of the candidate entering the fray on a Congress ticket. In the 2012 Assembly polls, then chief minister Narendra Modi had given ticket to 45 Patels to beat the challenge posed by Keshubhai Patel’s Gujarat Parivartan Party.

BJP announced candidates for only 70 of the 182 seats that go to polls in the two phases on December 9 and 14. It is said to be waiting for the Congress list of candidates. The Grand Old Party has delayed its list as negotiations with Hardik Patel’s PAAS are still on. Having ruled Gujarat since 1995, BJP is aware of the anti-incumbency especially in the wake of the recent developments.

While Hardik Patel has raised the quota demand, Alpesh Thakor of Ekta Manch has flagged the issue of OBCs and Jignesh Mewani has espoused the cause of Dalits. Since all three are opposed to the BJP, the saffron party realises that the contest is not easy this time.

Narendra Modi moving to the Centre has also made the going difficult for BJP though it plans to use him extensively in the campaign through rallies and road shows.

Deputy CM Nitinbhai Patel, a Kadva Patel, will contest from Mehsana while Gujarat BJP unit Chief Jitubhai Vaghani, a Leuva Patel, will be in the fray from Bhavnagar seat. Like CM Vijay Rupani, who will fight to retain the Rajkot West seat, the two Patels are also contesting from their own seats.

The contest in Mehsana would be interesting as Hardik Patel and his Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS) has been active in the district. Both Hardik and Nitin Patel are Kadva Patels.

The first list has 49 MLAs of which 12 are ministers.

With the Gujarat elections revolving around the issue of development, quotas and jobs for the youth, BJP has fielded 16 new faces in the first list. Of these, five candidates had joined the party recently after defecting from the Congress.

Three Dalits and 11 tribals have been named in the first BJP list. The emphasis on backward castes is also clear in the first list of BJP candidates. 18 OBC candidates find a place in the BJP list. Of these, eight are Thakors, five Kolis, and three Ahirs. Six Rajputs will be in the fray from the BJP, three Brahmins and two Jains. Of the 70 BJP candidates, only four are women.

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