BJP repeats 40 MLAs, its Muslim face not in list

Narendra Modi
The BJP's Central Election Committee has renominated almost 40 sitting MLAs in its first list that it declared for 84 seats on Thursday. The list for the first phase of Assembly polls on December 13, mainly in Saurashtra and South Gujarat, is topped by Chief Minister Narendra Modi but does not include state BJP's minority face Mahebubali Baba Chishty, who was hoping for a ticket from a constituency in Surat.

While 10 candidates who had lost the last Assembly elections in 2007 have been fielded again, seven sitting MLAs have been dropped.

State BJP chief R C Faldu will contest from Jamnagar Rural while BJP Yuva Morcha presideent Jitu Vaghani will be in the fray for Bhavnagar West.

In Saurashtra, BJP dropped only two sitting MLAs in its list for 44 seats in the region.

Agriculture Minister Dileep Sanghani and Minister of State for Fisheries Parshottam Solanki, facing prosecution in an alleged Rs 400-crore fishing contract scam, have been repeated. Solanki will fight Congress Legislature Party chief Shaktisinh Gohil in Bhavnagar Rural.

The other controversial face is Babu Bokhiriya, the former minister who is accused in the Rs 200-crore mining contract and a suspect in the murder of Congress leader Mulu Modhwadia. Bokhiriya will contest from Porbandar against GPCC chief Arjun Modhwadia.

For Junagadh seat, BJP has repeated sitting MLA Mahendra Mashru, was recently made an accused in the case where 23 Thalassemic children tested HIV positive last year after undergoing blood transfusion at Sarvoday Blood Bank he runs at Junagadh Civil Hospital.

The prize was, however, reserved for Poonam Madam, a relative of Congress MP Vikram Madam, who quit Congress only on Thursday morning after being denied a nomination for Khambhalia seat. Within hours, BJP gave her ticket from this seat, while dropping its sitting MLA Meghji Kanzariya. Madam is among the 11 women fielded by BJP.

The first list has no Muslims even for minority-dominated seats of Vagra and Wankaner. State BJP's minority morcha chief Mahebubali Baba Chishty, who was being projected as the Muslim face and star campigner of the party, has not been given a ticket. He was hopeful of getting a nomination from a constituency in Surat, where names of all candidates have been declared.

Industries Minister Saurabh Patel has not been repeated from Botad seat, which post-delimitation has more Koli voters than Patel. Congress has fielded its Koli heavyweight, Rajkot MP Kunvarji Bavalia, from this seat.

Finance Minister Vaju Vala has been repeated for the seventh time from Rajkot West seat, which was Rajkot-II before delimitation.

BJP has not obliged two senior organisation men, Vijay Rupani from Rajkot and I K Jadeja from Surendranagar. While Rupani, a former Rajya Sabha member, had showed interest in contesting from Rajkot West, Jadeja had lost from Dhrangadhra in 2007.

Talking of young and new faces, there are 10 candidates in the list who are below 30 years in age. Prominent among them is Kashyap Shukla, who is being fielded from Rajkot East. Shukla is the son of RSS veteran Chiman Shukla, who along with Shankersinh Vaghela had toppled the Keshubhai Patel-led BJP government in 1995.

In Rajkot, BJP has dropped two sitting MLAs, Kalu Virani from Savarkundla and Shambhu Tundiya from Dasada. Virani recently landed into a controversy when his daughter Ritu wrote to Modi not to repeat her father and made allegations of corruption against him.

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