Gujarat: Stage set for bypolls on 6 assembly seats

Electronic Voting Machines are carried to polling booths ahead of bypolls in Ahmedabad on Sunday. (Express Photo by Javed Raja)

Six assembly constituencies are going to bypolls on Monday with ruling BJP and opposition Congress trying to consolidate their positions in the Gujarat Assembly. Total 14.76 lakh voters are expected to exercise their franchise from 1,781 polling stations in six districts — Banaskantha, Patan, Mehsana, Aravalli, Ahmedabad and Mahisagar.

The six assembly constituencies include Radhanpur of Patan district, Bayad of Aravalli, Tharad of Banaskantha, Kheralu of Mehsana, Amraiwadi of Ahmedabad and Lunawada of Mahisagar district. While all the six seats are important for both BJP and Congress, all eyes are on Radhanpur and Bayad constituencies from where the ruling party has fielded turncoats Alpesh Thakor and Dhavalsinh Zala respectively.

Thakor and Zala were Congress MLAs from the two seats. They resigned from the Assembly in July after voting against the party’s whip in the bypolls to two Rajya Sabha seats. After cross voting, the two joined BJP and were later on fielded by BJP for the bypolls to the two seats.

Bypolls to the four other seats were necessitated following elections of sitting BJP MLAs to Lok Sabha in May this year.

BJP has fielded Jivraj Patel from Tharad constituency, Ajmal Thakor from Kheralu, Jagdish Patel from Amraiwadi and Jignesh Sevak from Lunavada constituency.

Against Alpesh, Congress has fielded Raghu Desai, one of its senior party workers in Radhanpur. Whereas, Jasubhai Patel will be fighting against Dhavalsinh Zala on Bayad constituency.

On Tharad, Kheralu, Amraiwadi and Lunavada constituencies, Congress has fielded Gulabsinh Rajput, Babuji Thakor, Dharmendra Patel and Gulabsinh Chauhan respectively.

BJP had made aggressive campaign for the bypolls while bringing in all its senior leaders in the state right up to Chief Minister Vijay Rupani. BJP has mainly sought votes on the performance of the Modi-led Central government with decisions like the law on triple talaq, abrogation of Kashmir’s special status under Article 370, weak Congress leadership etc.

Rupani was quite aggressive while campaigning for the party and he expressed confidence of building a Ram Temple in Ayodhya at a number of election rallies.

Opposition Congress had also brought its top state leadership for campaigning in the bypolls while touching upon issues like economic recession, issues of farmers and youths and unemployment.

In the 182-member Gujarat Assembly, currently BJP has 100 members against 69 from Congress. Eight seats are vacant and bypolls to six of them are being held.