Phase II: Day of the heavyweights

On a day when the campaigning for the second phase of Assembly elections drew to a close, Chief Minister Narendra Modi and majority of his Cabinet colleagues — some of whom are considered to be very close allies of Modi — are among the heavyweights who will face the litmus test when the electorates queue up to cast their votes on Monday.

Modi will take on a little known Congress rival Shweta Bhatt from Maninagar, a constituency where in 2007 polls he had defeated Congress heavy-weight Dinsha Patel with a victory margin of over 87,000 votes.

Meanwhile, 15 of his ministers from a 27-member strong Gujarat Cabinet (including Modi) will also seek to be re-elected.

Some of Modi's closest allies in the Cabinet, including Revenue Minister Anandi Patel and Industries Minister Saurabh Patel, have changed their 2007 constituencies and are now fighting from urban centres.

In 2007, Anandi Patel had won from Patan with a margin of just 6,004 votes (she is now contesting from Ghatlodia, Ahmedabad) and Saurabh Patel had won from Botad with a slimmer margin on 3,000-odd votes (he is now contesting from Akota, Vadodara).

Even the state Urban Development Minister Nitin Patel have quit his 2007 constituency of Kadi (won by 1,300-odd votes) and moved on to a more urban Mehsana seat.

Fakir Vaghela, Jaynarayan Vyas, Ramanlal Vora, Jashwantsinh Bhabhor, Parbat Patel, Jaysinh Chauhan, Vasan Ahir, Pradipsinh Jadeja, Praful Patel, Liladhar Vaghela, Jaydrathsinh Parmar, and Jitendra Sukhadia are among the other ministers contesting the Phase-II of polls.

The first phase of polls held on Thursday saw a historic 70.75 per cent of 1.8-crore voters exercise their franchise in a state that has about 3.6 crore voters.

From the Congress party, Shankarsinh Vaghela will be contesting from Kapadvanj. Vaghela had not contested in 2007 Assembly polls, but had lost the 2009 Lok Sabha elections from Godhra (by 2,000-odd votes) to BJP candidate Prabhatsinh Chauhan.

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