Gujarat polls: Voting for the second and final phase of Gujarat assembly elections began today on 93 seats of North and Central Gujarat. The results will be out on December 18. This election saw high-octane by ruling BJP and Congress. Congress President-elect Rahul Gandhi has led the party’s charge and took on Prime Minister Narendra Modi. PM Modi, on the other hand, hit back at every jibes directed at him. But amid all these, three faces have been missing- Shankersinh Vaghela, Ahmed Patel, Keshubhai Patel.
Veteran politician Shankersinh Vaghela had won his first election from Kapadvanj thirty-five years ago. 77-year-old had formed his new front Jan Vikalp Morcha. Jan Vikalp Morcha has fielded 100 candidates, most of them contesting on the symbol of the All India Hindustan Congress Party, Vaghela himself is not contesting, nor has he addressed any public meeting for his candidates. “I will chart my future course only after December 18,” Vaghela was quoted as saying by Indian Express. But Vaghela, himself, has chosen to stay out of the 2017 campaign.
Another prominent name is Ahmed Patel. Much happened during the Rajya Sabha elections in Gujarat earlier this year. Sonia Gandhi’s political secretary and a key strategist was not so active during the Gujarat assembly elections campaign. Instead, AICC chief media in-charge Randeep Singh Surjewala and his colleagues Pawan Khera and Priyanka Chaturvedi.
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ormer Chief Minister Keshubhai Patel and his family have for once stayed away from the elections. Last election, Keshubhai was a central figure with his newly floated Gujarat Parivartan Party that sought to represent his Patidar community against alleged neglect. Earlier this year, PM Modi visited Keshubhai’s home in September after the death of the veteran leader’s son Pravin. CM Vijay Rupani visited Keshubhai last month before filing his nomination. “Keshubhai is not involved in the election in any manner. The only office he continues to hold is chairman of Shree Somnath Trust,” a source close to him said.
Meanwhile, after an acrimonious campaign, around 2.22 crore voters would be exercising their franchise to choose between the two main contenders, the BJP and the Congress. A total of 851 candidates are in the fray for the second phase.
Prominent candidates in the fray for today’s battle include state deputy chief minister Nitin Patel, who is contesting from Mehsana, Alpesh Thakor (Radhanpur), and Jignesh Mevani (Vadgam). In Maninagar, the constituency once represented by Prime Minister Naredra Modi, Congress has given ticket to foreign-educated young face Sweta Bhrambhatt against BJP’s sitting MLA Suresh Patel. Modi had vacated the constituency after becoming the PM in 2014.
The first phase of voting for the 182-member house, held on December 9, covered 89 seats.
The election is being seen as a “prestige battle” for Prime Minister Modi and a litmus test for the leadership of Congress President-elect Rahul Gandhi.