In a move that may go in favour of the Congress, as many as six candidates in Godhra constituency in the Panchmahals district withdrew their nomination forms on Monday, the last day for withdrawal of nomination.
The six belong to the Muslim community. While three of them ó Mustak Guniya, Sajid Sheikh and Inayat Pathan ó were Independent candidates, the rest belonged to the Lok Janshakti Party (Shakilmiya Malek), the Samajwadi Party (Mustak Mansuri) and a little-known Akhil Bhartiya Manav Seva Dal (Mukhtyar Mansuri).
The Congress had faced defeat in the 2009 Lok Sabha elections after two candidates from LJP and ABMSD had managed to garner over 40,000 votes. Senior Congress leader Shankersinh Vaghela was defeated by a thin margin of over 2,000 votes then.
Sources in the Congress said the six candidates form minority community were cajoled into withdrawing their nomination to ensure that the 2009-type situation is not created, though the Muslim community in the constituency are visibly unhappy with the performance of Congress candidate C K Raulji over the last five years.
ďThe withdrawal will certainly go in favour of the party as their Muslim vote bank will remain intact. All these candidates could have weaned away votes from the community, which could have affected Congress more than the BJP,Ē said a source in the party.
Now, apart from Raulji and BJPís Pravinsinh Chauhan, candidates from Bahujan Samaj Party, Janata Dal (United) and three independents are left in the fray.