Five ministers from the one-year-old government of Bhupendra Patel did not make the cut. The list includes Rajendra Trivedi, recognized as the No. 2 in the toilet, and the MLA of Morbi Brijesh Merja, which appeared to have taken the hit for the collapse of the suspended walkway on October 30 in the district that killed 135 people. Gujarat’s first female speaker, Nima Acharya, also missed out on a ticket.
Nineteen names, or 12% of the 160-person list, are Congressional turncoats who have changed saffron in the past five years.
“BJP usually changes 20% of its MLAs. In an electoral democracy, change is necessary; otherwise it will lead to stagnation. We gave tickets to several young people and replaced 38 MLAs. This list shows a generational shift in Gujarat BJP, “said the president of the state party CR Paatil, quoted by the PTI.
The Saffron Party’s no-repeat policy whenever candidates failed to meet its winning criteria appeared to be the most stringent in the Ahmedabad Municipal Society area, where it declared candidates for 15 out of 16 seats, keeping only CM Patel and two MLAs in office. The candidate for the Vatva seat was not declared.
Except for Surat, the old guard mostly gave way to new faces in eight areas of the municipal guilds. In Rajkot, the BJP changed its candidates for all four seats. Vadodara has seen changes in three out of five urban locations. In total, the party fielded new faces in 21 of the 39 urban polling stations for which it finalized candidates.
The BJP’s confidence in repeating its stellar performance in the urban belt – in 2017, the party won 40 seats out of 46 – despite not repeating its candidates in most cases, stems from the tendency of its urban ramparts to vote for the party rather than the candidate, sources say.
In Surat, where AAP is seen as a threat that needs proven names, BJP has kept nine of the 11 MLAs in office. The first list came out the next day about half a dozen senior BJP officials, including the former CM Rupani and his former deputy Nitin Patel, has given up the race to vote.
While Hardik Patel, who was a thorn in the side of the BJP in 2017, will make his electoral debut in the hometown of Viramgam under the saffron flag, his contemporary and OBC rights activist Alpesh Thakor hopes to be chosen by the BJP for Gandhinagar (South) or Radhanpur.
Another new face is Payal Kukrani, 30, daughter of Manoj Kukrani, convicted of the 2002 Naroda Patia massacre. In Rajkot, Jan Sangh’s base, the BJP has chosen Dr. Darshita Shah, daughter of The first RSS chief of Gujarat PV Doshi. You will contest the seat of Rajkot (West), once represented by PM Narendra Modi and, subsequently, by former CM Rupani.
Darshana Vaghela, from the Valmiki community, replaced Minister Pradip Parmar in the Asarwa office, reserved for CS. The party has not nominated any Muslim candidates.
Candidates for the remaining 22 seats will be announced in a day or two, BJP state president Paatil said. He said the AAP was nowhere to be seen on the pitch and, at best, would corner the votes of the other parties.