The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Gujarat on Sunday suspended seven party leaders, including two former MLAs, for filing nominations as independent candidates for the upcoming state Assembly elections after they were denied tickets.
The seven candidates are contesting from the seats that will go to polls in the first phase of the elections scheduled to be held on December 1.
The party suspended former MLAs Arvind Ladani, who had won from Keshod constituency in 2012, and Harshad Vasava from the Scheduled Tribe-reserved seat of Nandod, after they filed their nominations as independents from these seats.
The BJP has fielded Dr Darshana Deshmukh from Nandod and Devabhai Malam from Keshod.
The saffron party also suspended Chhatarsinh Gunjariya, a district panchayat member from Surendranagar, after he filed his nomination as an independent from Dhrangadhra seat.
Other suspended leaders include Ketan Patel, Bharat Chavda, Uday Shah and Karan Baraiya, who have filed their nominations as independents from Pardi, Rajkot, Veraval and Rajula seats respectively.
The BJP, in a release, said, "These leaders have filed their nominations as independent candidates against the candidates declared by the party. They are being suspended on the direction of the state BJP president C R Paatil."
Paatil had earlier told reporters that it is a norm to suspend leaders who seek to contest as independents against party candidates after they fail to withdraw their nominations on the last day of withdrawal.
Several BJP leaders have come out in the open to express their unhappiness for being denied tickets and have declared to contest as independents.
Six-time MLA Madhu Shrivastav from Vaghodia, who was denied a ticket, has also filed his nominations as an independent. The BJP has fielded Ashwin Patel from the seat.
Another former BJP MLA Dinesh Patel aka Dinu Mama of Padra seat in Vadodara district has also filed his nominations as an independent.
The BJP has given the ticket to Chaitanyasinh Zala on the seat.
Both Vaghodia and Padra will go to polls in the second phase of elections on December 5. The BJP has not yet suspended the two former MLAs Shrivastav and Patel.
At least 788 candidates are in the fray for the first phase of the elections to 89 seats, which will be held on December 1.
The second phase of the polls for 93 constituencies will be held on December 5 and the counting of votes for all 182 Assembly seats will take place on December 8.