Gujarat Assembly election An estimated 2.22 crore people are eligible to exercise their franchise in the elections to 93 Assembly seats spread across 14 districts; 851 candidates are in the fray
Prominent candidates in the fray for the battle include Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel, who is contesting from Mehsana against Jivabhai Patel of the Congress, and half-a-dozen top Ministers. Junior Home Minister Pradipsinh Jadeja and Health minister Shankar Chaudhary are among the leaders contesting.
In Maninagar, the constituency once represented by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the Congress has given ticket to a foreign-educated young face Shweta Bhrambhatt against the BJP MLA Suresh Patel. Mr. Modi vacated the seat after becoming Prime Minister in 2014.
In its bid to form a caste bloc against the BJP, the Congress has won over Hardik Patel, Alpesh Thakore and Jignesh Mevani, who have emerged as the young turks representing Patidars, OBCs and Dalits, respectively, and pose a formidable challenge to the saffron party’s dominance.
Among the voters to exercise their franchise in the second phase include Prime Minister Narendra Modi, BJP President Amit Shah, BJP patriarch L.K. Advani and Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, all of whom will cast their vote in Ahmedabad city.
On the other hand, Mr. Gandhi, in his first media interaction after being elected as party president, told presspersons that there was “tremendous undercurrent” against the ruling BJP in Gujarat and predicted a victory for his party in the Assembly polls.
Citing quota agitations by Patidars and OBCs and Dalits as an example of rising discontent among the people, he claimed that “public mood” had undergone a radical shift with all sections of society angry with the saffron party.
A month-long campaigning for the crucial polls witnessed a major and ugly political firestorm after PM Modi alleged that Pakistan was trying to influence the Gujarat polls and even accused former PM Manmohan Singh of being a party to it.
However, the PM’s rare and unusual allegation was met with a strong rebuttal from Dr. Singh, who demanded that Mr. Modi apologise to the nation for his remarks.
Besides PM Modi and Congress president-elect Mr. Gandhi, Gujarat elections the one campaigner who stole the show was Patidar crusader Hardik Patel, who fired up the campaign by holding massive rallies across the State, particularly in Nikol area of the city, where he appealed to voters to teach BJP a “lesson” this time. The 24-year-old even held a road show although the authorities had denied permission for the event.