BJP unveils Gujarat list; women score 14/160, 1/4th sitting MLAs retired

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By Manish Anand

New Delhi, November 10: The Bharatiya Janata Party had managed to win the 2017 Gujarat Assembly elections with reduced strength in the Assembly, as the saffron outfit had bagged 99 seats against 111 in the 2012 state polls. Since 2017, the BJP had been working on the strategy to lure the Congress MLAs to shore up the party’s legislature strength, and the saffron outfit has fielded seven such turncoats in its first list of 160 candidates announced on Wednesday by the Union Minister Bhupender Yadav.

The BJP denied tickets to 38 sitting MLAs, with many of them releasing letters to the party leadership expressing their desires to not contest the Assembly elections. Vijay Rupani and Nitin Patel, former Chief Minister and Deputy Chief Minister respectively, had released their letters wherein they had stated that they would not be contesting the elections. Former Minister Saurabh Patel was also among the sitting legislators who have been denied tickets along with the MLA from Morbi Brajesh Merja. In the Morbi bridge collapse incident, 135 people lost their lives.

For the BJP, it’s now a confirmed trend that the party seeks to replace 20-25 per cent of the sitting legislators with fresh faces as part of the strategy to beat the anti-incumbency factor. The BJP has been doing this in the state elections as well as the Lok Sabha polls.

Even while the BJP has been in power in Gujarat, the saffron outfit failed to do justice to the women representation in the legislatures, as only 14 such candidates were fielded in the list of 160 names. This is despite the fact that Gujarat had a woman Chief Minister, Anandiben Patel, recently after Narendra Modi became Prime Minister. While the BJP is yet to announce the names of 22 candidates, the women nominees are not likely to be significant. The BJP had fielded just six women candidates in the Himachal Pradesh Assembly elections for 68 seats.

While the political observers largely concur that the BJP could be comfortably winning the Gujarat elections, the top brass of the saffron outfit is toiling hard in the state in a clear indication that the lack of popularity of the incumbent Chief Minister Bhupendra Patel. The BJP is also faced with the challenge of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in Surat and adjoining urban centres which had helped the saffron outfit retain the power five years ago.

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