Keshubhai pulls nominee out of Shweta Bhatt’s way

Keshubhai Patel's Gujarat Parivartan Party withdrew its candidate from Maninagar constituency today to allow Congress nominee Shweta Bhatt, wife of suspended IPS officer Sanjiv Bhatt, a direct contest with Chief Minister Narendra Modi.

The Congress has not fielded a candidate against Keshubhai in Visavadar either, so the move is being seen as a reciprocatory gesture. The GPP's Maninagar candidate, Pravin Patel, a Kadva Patel and small-time builder, withdrew his nomination on Monday because his party wanted a "common candidate" against Modi, said GPP general secretary Gordhan Zadaphia. "It is an exception we have made to allow the Congress a direct fight with the BJP and in this case Modi. Possibly, we will be able to transfer our votes to Shweta because our common aim is to defeat Modi."

The withdrawal followed an appeal by Shweta Bhatt to all political parties to support her against Modi.

The 2007 election too had seen a direct fight between Modi and the Congress's Lok Sabha MP Dinsha Patel from Maninagar. Modi won by more than 87,000 votes.

Eight constituencies other than Maninagar will see the Congress and BJP in direct contests, while Keshubhai's Visavdar is the only seat where the GPP will be in a direct fight with the BJP. In those eight seats, the GPP has either not fielded candidates or has found its nominees rejected on technical grounds.

The GPP failed to find a suitable candidate for Dharampur (ST). The nominations of its candidates for Viramgam, Chanasma, Unjha, Mahesana, Bayad, Dahegam and Dhanera were rejected. The four-month old GPP is fighting all other seats.

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