The BJP is confident and the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) aims to dent the ruling party and the Congress as Gujarat votes for the first phase of Assembly elections today. We look at a few key seats.
Jamnagar North is where the battle is between BJP’s Rivaba Jadeja, cricketer Ravindra Jadeja’s wife, Congress’ Bipendrasinh Jadeja, and AAP’s Karsan Karmur. The seat came to the limelight after a political tussle between two members of the same family came to the fore with Rivaba, who is making her electoral debut, contesting from the BJP and her sister-in-law and father-in-law campaigning for the Congress candidate.
The BJP dropped the sitting MLA Dharmendrasinh Merubha who won the seat by defeating Congress candidate Ahir Jivanbhai Karubhai Kumbharvadiya in the 2017 Assembly elections.
Morbi became the talking point following the bridge collapse in October that killed over 130 people. The BJP has fielded Kantilal Amrutiya, who replaced sitting MLA and Cabinet Minister Brijesh Merja, and he is up against Congress’ Jayantilal Jerajbhai Patel and AAP’s Pankaj Ransariya.
The Opposition parties, during the campaign, raised the issue of “mismanagement” in the Morbi incident, trying to corner the government on the incident.
However, historically, the BJP has won the Morbi Assembly seat in 1995, 1998, 2002, 2007 and 2012 before Amrutiya lost to Merja, who was in Congress in 2017. Merja had joined BJP later and won the by-polls from Morbi again. The BJP has Merja with Amrutiya in 2022.
The seat is significant as the AAP’s chief ministerial face Isudan Gadhvi is contesting from this seat where he is confronted by BJP’s Mulu Ayar Bera and Congress’ Vikram Madam.
The battle is expected to be triangular with a close contest between the BJP and AAP. Congress is said to be strong as the party candidate Ahir Vikram Maadam had won the seat in 2017. The Congress has replaced its candidate in the 2022 elections.
Rajkot West is the seat where Prime Minister Narendra Modi previously contested a by-poll in 2002. Former chief minister Vijay Rupani had also contested from the seat in the 2017 Assembly elections. The BJP has given a ticket to two-time Deputy Mayor Darshita Shah who is up against AAP’s Dinesh Joshi and Congress’s Mansukhbhai. The seat is considered a bastion of the BJP which the party has not lost since 1985.
Pabubha Manek, the BJP candidate who has not lost a single election in the last 32 years, is up against Congress’ Malu Kandoria, and AAP candidate Nakum Lakhmanbhai Boghabhai. Manek had won the first three elections as an independent (1990, 95, 98), then joined the Congress and won the seat in 2002. Later, he won the Assembly elections of 2007, 2012 and 2017 on a BJP ticket.
The seat is all set to witness an interesting battle this time in which the AAP has fielded its state president Gopal Italia who is considered to be an influential Patidar leader, from the constituency. He had played a key role in the Patidar quota agitation in 2015. He will face off against the Congress candidate Kaplesh Variya, who belongs to the Prajapati community (OBC), and the BJP candidate Vinod Mordiya.
A tough battle is expected on the Porbandar seat where the BJP has fielded its sitting MLA and four-time winner Babu Bokhiria once again. He is pitted against Congress candidate Arjun Modhwadia and AAP’s Jeevan Jungi. Bokhiria had won the seat in 1995, 1998, 2012 and 2017. In 2002 and 2007, Bokhiria was defeated by his arch-rival and former Gujarat Congress president Arjun Modhwadia. Both are face-to-face this time too.
Kandhalbhai Jadeja, son of late don Santokben Sarmanbhai Jadeja, is contesting on the Samajwadi Party ticket. He had won the 2017 Assembly elections on the NCP ticket, however, quit the party recently after he was denied a ticket. He is pitted against BJP’s Dheliben Odedra, AAP’s Bhimabhai Makvana, and Congress’ Nathabhai Odedra.