In Maiden Lok Sabha Bid, Amit Shah Replaces Veteran MP Advani as BJP’s Gandhinagar Candidate
Sources said a senior RSS leader had conveyed the party’s decision to LK Advani.

New Delhi: Veteran BJP leader LK Advani, who has been MP from Gandhinagar seat in Gujarat for five consecutive terms since 1998 will not be contesting from the same constituency this time. Instead BJP president Amit Shah, who became Rajya Sabha MP in August 2017, will contest from the seat.

Advani, who has served as the home minister and deputy PM of the country, won the Lok Sabha seat six times and has been credited with crafting the BJP's rise in the late 80s, from just two seats in the 1984 Lok Sabha elections.

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Advani, many senior BJP leaders maintain, has been sidelined since he voiced his reservations against the candidature of Narendra Modi as Prime Minister ahead of the 2014 Lok Sabha polls.

Last week, sources in the BJP said that a senior leader from the RSS had visited Advani at his residence and informed him that the party would not be asking him to contest polls, officially citing the 91-year-old's age. There was some conjecture within the party as to whether Advani's son, Jayant, would contest from the seat. However, the option was eventually ruled out, said party leaders.

The other potential candidate, sources in the BJP said, was the daughter of former Gujarat CM and governor of MP Anandiben Patel. Patel, sources said, was keen on her daughter Anar to get a nomination from the seat. She had represented the Ghatlodia Assembly segment, which is also part of the Gandhinagar constituency.

An MLA had reportedly suggested Anar’s name for the seat, though there was no possibility of her being nominated for the Lok Sabha election. In this scenario, it is possible that Shah’s supporters might have demanded a ‘national leadership’ candidate just to silence the Anandiben Patel camp.

A BJP leader from Gujarat, however, said, "Shah's candidature gives momentum to the party's campaign. The seat is a prestigious one for the BJP. The party has seen veterans like Advani ji and Vajpayee ji contest and represent the seat."

After contesting the Lok Sabha polls from Gandhinagar seat for the first time in 1991, Advani retained the constituency in 1998, 1999, 2004, 2009 and 2014. Advani did not contest the elections in 1996 citing the Babri Masjid demolition case against him. However, former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee contested from the seat, as well as from Lucknow, and won.