Gujarat: BJP, Cong begin final round of candidate selection

Ahmedabad, Oct. 27 -- With unprecedented number of ticket aspirants vying to contest the Assembly polls scheduled for December, Gujarat Congress and BJP have begun final rounds of candidate selection for 182 assembly seats. For each seat, both parties have at least six serious contenders, making the selection process difficult and tricky.

Gujarat BJP's 13 member parliamentary board will hold five day consecutive meetings from October 30 to draw a final panel of three candidates for each seat, which will be sent to the national parliamentary board to pick the final candidate. The BJP observers, which had taken assessment from the local leaders and workers in each district, have given their reports to the state parliamentary panel.

On the first day, the parliamentary will discuss and prepare panel for 29 assembly segments spread in seven districts of the state. Maninagar, represented by the Chief minister Narendra Modi, is the only one from where no one from the BJP has staked claim for the party nomination.

The ruling party will be contesting all the seats as it has no alliance partner in the state while Congress is likely to leave around a dozen seats for NCP, which last time won from three seats, and has staked its claim on two dozen seats in the state.

The Congress party's screening committee for Gujarat headed by union minister CP Joshi will be meeting on Saturday in Delhi to give final shape to the list of first 40 seats for which there is unanimity. In the first list, Gujarat Congress president Arjun Modhvadia from Porbandar and leader of the opposition Shaktisinh Gohil from Bhavnagar (rural) are included.

To eliminate anti incumbency factor at grassroots level, the ruling party is likely to drop more than 30 sitting MLAs from its current tally of 120 members in the house.

Some top ministers in the cabinet like revenue and road and building minister Anandiben Patel, urban development and irrigation minister Nitin Patel, junior law minister Pradipsinh Jadeja, junior fisheries minister Purushottam Solanki and state BJP president RC Faldu are shifting their base to other seats as their current seats have been affected by the redrawing of constituencies under delimitation.

With selection process for candidates' underway, political movements from one party to another has also begun. Sitting BJP MLA Bhavsinh Rathor is set to join Congress, which he had quit to join BJP in 2009 on the eve of the parliamentary polls. Similarly, NCP MLA Tusharsinh is set to join BJP to contest the polls from Godhara district.

Last week, former BJP MLA from Ahmedabad Dr Jitu Patel joined Congress and is likely to contest assembly polls as party nominee from Naranpura assembly segment.

Published by HT Syndication with permission from Hindustan Times.