Gujarat: BJP set to retain saffron citadel

Gujarat: BJP set to retain saffron citadel
Gujarat: BJP set to retain saffron citadel


AHMEDABAD: After ruling the state for more than two-and-a-half decades, the party consolidated its power by winning all 26 Lok Sabha seats in the past two elections. The party believes a hat-trick is in sight. In the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, four BJP candidates won with more than 40% margin votes and seven others with over 30% margin votes. While the party’s state unit president, C R Patil, won the Navsari Lok Sabha seat with 6,89,668 votes; Union Home Minister Amit Shah bagged the Gandhinagar Lok Sabha seat with a margin of 5,57,014.

Winning with the lowest margin of 12% votes was Dahod candidate Jashvantsinh Bhambhor. This time, Patil has set a target to win all 26 seats with a thick margin of 5 lakh votes on every seat. Recently, a confident Patil, during a public speech, claimed that Prime Minister Narendra Modi is set to hit a hat-trick in his office. However, despite the party’s confidence in winning all the parliamentary constituencies, it is facing trouble on a few seats, owing to stronger rivals, the party’s internal factionalism and the cadres opposing the candidature of a few.

Congress candidate Geniben Thakor(48) from Banaskantha district is the sole woman Congress MLA in the current Gujarat Assembly. She is aggressively campaigning and giving a tough time to BJP candidate Rekhaben Chaudhary. In her statement, Geniben directly attacked the district police forces, saying they function like puppets at the hands of the ruling party.

Giving the party a tough time in North Gujarat is Sabarkantha’s official candidate, Sobhana Bariaya. BJP leaders are against her nomination because they see her as an outsider. Her husband, Mahendra Baraiya, joined the BJP two years ago.

Just a day before her name was announced, she resigned as a government teacher. Besides, the feeling that the party leadership was sidelining their needs had also gripped a section of the party. Adding to the troubles are internal conflicts that are rife within the party over candidates in five seats in the state. Though the party leaders are trying their best to douse the fire, success seems to evade them in a few seats, said a party worker from central Gujarat wishing anonymity. BJP chief spokesman Yamal Vyas expressed confidence in winning all seats because of Modi magic, the Ram temple and abolition of Article 370 in J&K. All these will surely fetch the desired public support, he added.

Two candidates replaced In a rare occurrence, the BJP changed Baroda and Sabarkantha candidates. Ranjanben Bhatt, a two-term MP, initially got the ticket for Baroda but faced opposition, leading to her withdrawal. Speculation was rife that her removal stemmed from state president’s disapproval. Similarly, Bhikhaji Thakor was nominated for Sabarkantha, but in the face of protests, his candidature was changed. The shift is viewed as part of the evolving political landscape. In Amreli and Surendra Nagar, rift surfaced, intensifying challenges over allocation of tickets to lesser-known leaders.

Five troublesome seats

Bharuch: Traditionally held by senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel, the seat was allocated to the AAP as part of the Congress-AAP seat-sharing agreement. There were demands within the Congress for a ticket to someone from Ahmed Patel’s family. Fielded by AAP, Chetan Vasava enjoys significant support among tribals. BJP’s six-time MP Mansukh Vasava is contesting against him.

Rajkot: Controversy stemming from Rupala’s statement on Kshatriyas has stirred unrest not only in Gujarat but in other states also. While agitations were staged in Rajkot and Saurashtra, the extent of Kshatriya influence is unclear. Rupala has apologised for his statement, urging voters not to direct their anger towards PM Modi.

Bhavnagar: Despite being a BJP stronghold in Saurashtra, the party faces difficulties for two reasons: AAP has fielded a candidate in alliance with Congress, and the Kshatriya stir involving Rupala.

Banaskantha: The contest is between two women Genie Bain of Congress and BJP’s Rekha Chaudhary. Bain is a formidable leader with solid local connections, while Chaudhary is from the family that founded Banas Dairy. Bain’s grassroots connect, unique style of filing nomination papers on a tractor, and emotive campaigning have garnered attention. She is also a two-time MLA.

Junagadh: Strong opposition surrounds BJP’s candidate Rajesh Chudasama in Junagadh. He faces scrutiny regarding a case related to the murder of a doctor.



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