It’s all in the family. That seems to be the archetype in the Gujarat 2022 Assembly Elections. While the Congress has fielded 12 candidates who have an influential family name, the BJP has doubled the count with 25 of its candidates from power legacies. That makes it nearly 50 of the 182 seats in the fray.
Debutante in Gujarat, the Aam Aadmi Party has opted for new blood on the ground. In its promise for a new Gujarat, it has strategically kept away from nepotism and power lineages, except in the case of Kailash Gadhvi, son of former Gujarat Congress chief B K Gadhvi. The AAP has fielded a total of 189 candidates in the fray for 182 Assembly constituencies,
Both the BJP and Congress have some heavyweight names: from sons of former chief ministers to progenies of former councillors, the young of previous power-lords dot both parties’ list of candidates. Some are already established leaders while some are greenhorns, looking to secure a toehold in the political arena.
Take the case of Mahendrasinh Vaghela contesting from Bayad. He is the of son of former chief minister and Congress strongman Shankersinh Vaghela. Likewise, Tushar Chaudhary is the son of Amarsinh Chaudhary, the only tribal chief minister in Gujarat’s history. To his credit, Tushar has been a Union minister of State twice, helming tribal affairs and road and transport in separate cabinets. He is contesting from Khedbrahma.
Gujarat Congress chief Jagdish Thakor’s brother Amarat Thakor is in the fray from Kankrej. For Amit Chavda, grandson of former Rajya Sabha member Ishwar Singh Chavda, this election is the race to become the people’s representative from Borsad for the third time.
Shailesh Parmar, son of former minister Manu Parmar, has been nominated from Danilimda for the fourth time. Former MLA Savshi Makwana’s son, Ritwik Makwana and daughter Kalpana Makwana, have both been fielded by the Congress.
On the other hand, just months after PM Modi criticised dynasties and nepotism in politics in his Independence Day speech from Red Fort, the BJP has outdone the Congress where it comes to nepotism in this contest.
From Jamalpur Khadia in Ahmedabad going all guns blazing for the BJP is Bhushan Bhatt, son of former minister Ashok Bhatt. In Saurashtra, Jayesh Radadiya, son of former MP and senior Saurashtra leader Vitthal Radadiya, has been awarded the ticket from Jetpur. Parsottam Solanki and his cousin Hira Solanki, the big faces of the Koli community in Saurashtra, are again in the fray from their old seat. Interestingly, Hira Solanki lost the 2017 elections from Rajula to Amrish Der of the Congress by 12,719 votes. RSS leader Dr P.V. Doshi’s granddaughter Dr Darshita Shah is the BJP candidate from Rajkot West, PM Modi’s old seat.
Veteran Congress leader and 11 times MLA Mohan Singh Rathwa, a prominent tribal leader joined Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP) after quitting the Congress in November. However, he is not contesting the elections owing to health concerns. His son Rajubhai Rathwa will contest from their stronghold Chotta Udepur in Central Gujarat.
According to Gaurang Jani, sociologist and former HoD, Gujarat University: “Political parties survive only by winning elections. Family names matter much more than criminal records and this is rather unfortunate. These candidates are more likely to succeed because their caste also plays an influential role along with the family name.”
When asked to comment on dynasty politics, Gujarat Congress chief Jagdish Thakor refuted all charges saying “as the party’s worker and leader, people want him. They know we are honest and so, having my brother on board is more about the people’s mandate over an individual’s preference.”
For former BJP minister and candidate from Bharuch, Ishwar Patel, the family name matters because “it is associated with service.” As he puts it: “I have been with the BJP since 1989. The early years saw me serve as district youth secretary. However, the ticket in 2002 has voted me an MLA in successive terms. We let our work do all the talking.”
1. Bhushan Bhatt (son of former minister Ashok Bhatt)
2. Jayesh Radadiya (son of former MP Vitthal Radadiya)
3. Kirit Singh Rana (nephew of former MLA Jitubha Rana)
4. Dr Darshita Shah (RSS leader Dr P.V. Doshi’s granddaughter)
5. Bhanu Babaria (daughter-in-law of former MLA Madhu Babaria)
6. Geetaba Jadeja (wife of former MLA Jayrajsinh Jadeja)
7. Parsottam Solanki
8. Hira Solanki (Ticket repeated for both cousins)
9. Ishwar Patel (son of former Ankleshwar MLA Thakor Patel)
10. Rajesh Jhala (son of former MLA Magan Jhala)
11. Rajendra Rathwa (son of senior Congress MLA Mohan Singh)
12. Shailesh Bhabhor (son of former minister Jaswant Bhabhor)
13. Yogendra Parmar (son of former MLA Ram Singh Parmar)
14. Darshana Deshmukh (daughter of former MP Chandu Deshmukh)
15. Chetanya Desai (son of Jana Sangh leader Makrand Desai)
16. Sejal Pandya (wife of Bhavnagar city president Rajiv Pandya)
17. Mansingh Parmar (nephew of Govind Parmar)
18. Jawahar Chavda (son of Pathal Ji Chavda)
19. Praveen Mali (son of former MLA Gordhan Mali)
20. Rita Patel (niece of former MLA Ashok Patel)
21. Kanu Patel (son of former MLA Karamshi Patel)
23. Payal Kukrani (daughter of former corporator Ramesh Kukrani)
24. Kanchan Radadiya (wife of former corporator Vinu Radadiya)
25. Hitesh Vasava (son of BTP leader Devji Vasava)
1. Mahendrasinh Vaghela (son of former CM Shankersinh Vaghela)
2. Tushar Chaudhary (son of former CM Amarsinh Chaudhary)
3. Amarat Thakor (brother of Gujarat Congress chief Jagdish Thakor)
4. Amit Chavda (grandson of Congress MP Ishwar Singh Chavda)
5. Sanjay Rabari (son of former MLA Goa Rabari)
6. Shailesh Parmar (son of former minister Manu Parmar)
7. Jayshree Patel (daughter of former MLA)
8. Ami Rawat (wife of Congress leader Narendra Rawat)
9. Snehlata Khant (daughter-in-law of former MLA Savita Khant)
10. Ritwik Makwana (son of Savshi Makwana)
11. Kalpana Makwana (daughter of Savshi Makwana)
12. Sangram Rathwa (son of Rajya Sabha MP Narayan Rathwa )