December 4, 2022

NEW DELHI: The BJP on Thursday released its first list of 160 candidates for the two-phase elections to the 182-member Gujarat Assembly, which Prime Minister Bhupendra Patel is nominating from his Ghatlodia constituency and dumping a large number of incumbent MLAs.

Names of Hardik Patel, the face of Patidar agitation in the 2017 general election, who later left Congress to join the BJP, and Rivaba Jadeja, wife of cricketer Ravindra Jadeja, are on the list.

While Hardik Patel from Viramgam will compete, Rivaba Jadeja from Jamnagar North has been fielded.

When the list was released, Union Minister Bhupendra Yadav said the BJP had changed up to 38 sitting members and claimed most replacements were made with the approval of the incumbents.

The party named its candidates for 84 of the 89 seats that will go to vote in the first phase on December 1 and 76 of 93 candidates that will go to the polls in the second phase on December 5.

Union Ministers Yadav and Mansukh Mandaviya were joined here by Gujarat BJP President CR Patil at a press conference as Yadav named the candidates selected by the party’s Central Electoral Committee at its meeting on Wednesday.

Yadav said the list includes 69 incumbent MLAs and 13 and 24 members of the Schedule Castes and Schedule Tribes, respectively, in addition to 14 women.

He said a number of senior leaders, including former Prime Minister Vijay Rupani and former Deputy Prime Minister Nitin Patel, had withdrawn from the contest and wrote to the party leadership.

Patil expressed confidence that the BJP will break its previous record for number of seats and share of the vote in these polls.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and other CEC members, including Union Ministers Amit Shah and Rajnath Singh, and the party’s national president, JP Nadda, attended the meeting to finalize the nominees.

The BJP hopes to continue its winning streak in state polls since 1995.

The accession of the Aam Aadmi party has added an extra dimension to the state’s traditional bipolar elections, with the BJP’s main challenger, Congress, being hit by a fresh round of desertions by its leaders as it works to regroup.

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