Ahead of the crucial Gujarat elections, the Congress party has replaced five out of 90 candidates it had announced so far, as part of its strategy. On Tuesday night, Congress released its second list of 13 candidates, which includes nine new candidates, apart form four replaced nominnees declared in the first list of 77 candidates on November 19.The five new candidates are Bhikhabhai Joshi (Junagadh), Jayesh Patel (Bharuch), Ashok Jirawala (Kamrej), Dhirubhai Gajera (Varaccha Road) and D M Patel (Botad). They have replaced Amit Thummar, Kiran Thakor, Nilesh Kumbani, Prafulbhai Togadiya, and Manhar Patel, respectively.
According to Gujarat Congress unit president Bharatsinh Solanki the replacement was part of a strategy as the party has to keep in mind various factors as well as the feedback received from the party workers. Gujarat Congress spokesperson Manish Doshi said that D M Patel will be up-against senior BJP leader and state Finance Minister Saurabh Patel from Botad seat, which is a Patel-dominated.
The party workers had held protests in Surat, Dhoraji and Jamangar on Monday over the choice of nominees after Congress released its first list on Sunday. The Congress gave tickets to only two members of the Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS) in its first list as against the 20 seats demanded by the Hardik Patel-led organisation. Hardik’s close aide and PAAS convener for Botad, Dilip Sabva on Tuesday said that since the Congress has chosen D M Patel for the seat, he was now exploring other options. He added that Patidars are working hard since the last two-three years to overthrow the BJP government. When the BJP has fielded a strong candidate like Saurabh Patel, the Congress should have taken a wise decision. The Patidars may tap other options now, it was indicated.
The polling for the crucial Gujarat State Assembly ellections will be held in two phases on December 9 and December 14. Votes will be counted on December 18. Out of 182 seats up for grabs, 89 seats will go to poll in the first phase and 93 in the second phase.
In another development over seat sharing, Former JD(U) MLA Chhotubhai Vasava on Tuesday said that his newly-formed Bhartiya Tribal Party has entered into a seat-sharing agreement with the Congress, and will contest from five places in the Gujarat Assembly polls. Vasava, a tribal leader and MLA from Jhagadia in Bharuch district, said the Congress has offered five seats to his party which he floated after a split in the JD(U). These seats are Jhagadia, Dediapada, Mangrol, Morva Hadaf and Waghodia, all reserved for the Scheduled Tribes (ST) category.