Eighty seven seats of Saurashtra and south Gujarat region and four in Ahmedabad district, all spread over 15 districts which go to polls on Thursday will play a decisive role in influencing whether Narendra Modi continues into a record breaking third term in Gujarat or luck smiles on a Congress which has been out in the cold for almost a quarter century in the state.
Eight hundred and forty six candidates, including 46 women, are in the fray waiting for the smile of their quota of the total 1.81 crore eligible voters to take them sailing into the hallowed portals of the Vidhan Sabha this time over. The BJP is contesting all seats, Congress 84 and GPP 83, while the rest are Independents. The second phase of polling covering 95 seats go to the polls on December 17 and the results for the total 182 seats will be declared on December 20.
The first phase of the Gujarat assembly elections will have 104 candidates with a criminal record, says the National Election Watch (NEW).
Basing their assessments on the information provided by candidates of the first phase, it observed that out of the 482 candidates analysed for the 1st phase of elections, 104 candidates or 22 per cent declared criminal cases against them. In the 2007 elections, 23 per cent candidates had volunteered information on criminal cases against themselves. All major parties have given tickets to such candidates.
INC has 27 out of 83 (33%), BJP 22 out of 87 (25%), BSP 7 out of 78 (9 %), JD-U 7 out of 29 (24 %), SP 5 out of 19 (26%), NCP 2 out of 3 (67%) and GPP 21 out of 83 (25 %) candidates with declared criminal cases.
Gujarat Congress president Arjun Modhwadia, leader of opposition Shaktisinh Gohil, finance minister Vaju Vala, minister of state for fisheries and Koli strongman Parshottam Solanki, as well as Gujarat Parivartan Party (GPP) leaders Keshubhai Patel and Gordhan Zadaphia are among those whose fate will be decided in this phase of polling.
Two times winner in a row, the ruling BJP is going through anxiety pangs this time over as their own onetime patriarch, Keshubhai Patel and his regional outfit, The Gujarat Parivartan Party (GPP)is set to rock their boat.
Patel, one of the founding fathers of the Gujarat BJP nay Jan Sangh, who played a major role in bringing BJP to power and headed its first ever government in Gujarat in 1995, is now out to undo his half a century of hardwork.
Patel and his GPP is the one unknown factor which has the potential to cut into the BJP vote bank and bleed it. If it fails, a third term for Modi is a near certainty.
It is largely Patel’s shadow that has seen Modi forego much. His surefire formula of axing over 50 per cent of the sitting legislators to buck anti-incumbency has been given the go-by and the entire cabinet has been retained with less than a dozen getting dropped.
Saurashtra accounts for 52 seats and the BJP bagged 38 seats in the last elections. The GPP, has the potential to tilt the balance even if it fails to win. A gainer in this region, the BJP lost out in central Gujarat where it had 49 of the total 57 seats in 2002 and was reduced to 30 seats in 2007. It is working hard to regain central Gujarat but may face erosion in Saurashtra. The tilt of Patel voters may well prove decisive.
Almost half of Gujarat would exercise their franchise tomorrow for 87 seats in the first phase of the 182-member Gujarat Assembly elections where 1.81 crore voters will decide the fate of 846 candidates.
Voters will also decide the fate of many state political big-wigs who are contesting elections like Keshubhai Patel, Assembly Speaker Ganpat Vasava, Gujarat BJP president R C Faldu, state Congress president Arjun Modhwadia and Leader of Opposition Shaktisinh Gohil.
State ministers like Vajubhai Vala, Vasuben Trivedi, Narottam Patel, Mangubhai Patel, Purshottam Solanki, Kiritsinh Rana, Dilip Sanghani, Kanubhai Bhalala, Mohan Kundaria and Ranjit Gilitvala will also be awaiting their fate following tomorrow's voting