The rural areas of Vadodara have yielded mixed fortunes for the BJP, which won four seats in 2012 but only three in 2017. In contrast, the party had comfortably annexed all five seats in the city with handsome margins both in 2012 and 2017.
In 2012, the only seat the BJP lost was Savli. In 2017, the Congress made inroads into the pensioner’s paradise by establishing itself on two seats – Padra and Karjan.
This time, the Congress is banking on a medley of fresh, young, and popular faces to fight its battle in the city’s hustings. While, the BJP has a mix that includes two sitting MLAs from Manjalpur and Vadodara City (SC) seats and three new faces on the Sayajigunj, Akota, and Raopura seats.
Several heavyweights eyed the Sayajigunj seat, but the BJP sprung a surprise by awarding a ticket to VMC mayor Keyur Rokadiya, who will face the Congress leader of opposition in the VMC, Ami Ravat. AAP candidate, Swejal Vyas, is also grabbing attention with his vocal campaign.
In Raopura, the BJP denied its cabinet minister Rajendra Trivedi a ticket but fielded former Vadodara MP Balkrishna Shukla from this seat. The Congress has fielded Sanjay Patel who joined the party after quitting the BJP over a decade ago.
Akota is another seat that several bigwigs from the BJP were eyeing, but the party dropped Seema Mohile and fielded Chaitanya Desai, son of late Makrand Desai, one of the founders of the Jan Sangh. Meanwhile, the Congress has fielded Rutvij Joshi, former student leader and Youth Congress leader who was recently made the city unit president.
Yogesh Patel (76) contesting on a BJP ticket from Manjalpur is the eldest BJP candidate in the fray in the state. The BJP broke its 75-year age limit rule to grant him a ticket. The Congress, too, sprung a surprise by giving a ticket to little-known dentist Dr Tashveen Singh.
The Vadodara City seat is reserved for a candidate from the scheduled caste. The BJP has fielded minister and sitting MLA Manisha Vakil against Gunvant Parmar of the Congress.
However, one of the most keenly contested seats will be Waghodia, where two BJP rebels – Dharmendrasinh Vaghela and Madhu Shrivastava – are in the fray as independents. The Congress veteran and former MP Satyajitsinh Gaekwad will face Gautam Solanki of the AAP in the fight for this seat.
Rebel rousing is also witnessed in Padra, where BJP rebel and Baroda Dairy chairman Dinesh Patel aka Dinu Mama, is in the fray as an independent against Chaitanyasinh Zala of the BJP. Sitting MLA from the Congress, Jashpalsinh Padhiyar, is eyeing a second term.
Known originally as Darbhavati, Dabhoi was probably the only assembly constituency in the state that never gave a second term to an incumbent representative. However, BJP’s Shailesh Mehta alias Sotta broke that jinx in 2017. Though it will be an uphill task, Mehta is now eyeing a second term for himself and a hattrick for his party.
The Karjan seat has swung between the BJP and the Congress in the past four assembly polls. The BJP has fielded sitting MLA Akshay Patel who won the by-poll in 2020.
BJP’s Ketan Inamdar, a widely popular leader in Savli, is eyeing a hattrick.
Also Read: Gujarat Assembly Elections: Parties Fight It Out, Literally