The BJP’s candidate from Viramgam, Hardik Patel, who till recently was swarmed with as many as 20 FIRs after leading legions of Patidars in the agitation to demand the OBC quota and even spent nine months in prison on sedition charges, seems to have been white-washed by the party. “He is a well-known, publicly accepted leader and has been in a responsible position attached to social service”, the party has said to justify Hardik’s selection, who quit the Congress to join BJP.
This time around, the Election Commission of India (ECI) has specifically ordered political parties to clarify their decisions in selecting candidates with criminal records. Acting on the directives of the Supreme Court, the ECI had told political parties to explain to the public through mass media why other candidates could not be found.
Alpesh Thakor, another Congress turncoat in the BJP, has also had the FIRs against him disregarded in the winnability scheme of things. Of the six FIRs against Thakor, five were filed for his role in agitations and three when he was with Congress. Now he has the BJP ticket for Gandhinagar South.
The BJP’s Babu Jamnadas Patel, seeking his seventh term from Daskroi, is charged with cheating, forgery, and criminal conspiracy. The party says the accusations have “no substance”. His popularity is cited as the reason for picking him over any untainted candidate.
The Congress’s rationalisation for its choices is no different from the BJP’s. The Congress’s Arjun Modhwadia, who will slug it out in Porbandar, is fighting a defamation case. However, he is hailed by his party for his “seniority, merit, and social service”. The two-term BJP MLA from Mahuva, Kanubhai Kalsaria, who is now a Congress candidate, has been “falsely implicated in two cases” according to the party.
The AAP, a relative newbie in the Gujarat poll game, has also mastered the act. Its Thakkarbapanagar candidate, Sanjay Mori, is accused of trespassing and assault. However, “he is a man who will fight for justice,” the party says. The AAP’s “most-deserving” Vadodara City candidate, Jigar Solanki, has cases filed against him for recording a video at a police station and for protesting in violation of a government notification.