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Ahead of Gujarat elections tensions rise for BJP MLAs over poll ticket

Many BJP MLAs are being apprehensive that PM Modi and party chief Amit Shah may use their old formula of denying tickets to sitting members.

As the election dates are nearing in Gujarat, the tensions for the BJP MLAs is rising day by day regarding the party’s trend of distributing the tickets. It is believed that Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP Party President Amit Shah usually tend to deny tickets to the sitting members.

During the time of his reign as the Chief Minister of Gujarat, Narendra Modi had denied tickets to 47 sitting MLAs in 2007 and the number came down to 20 in 2012 in wake of the challenges put forth by Keshubhai Patel’s Gujarat Parivartan Party. When Modi had led BJP for the first time as the CM, 18 sitting members were denied the tickets.

Fearing the trend of Modi, the MLAs have crossed their fingers, hoping not be shown the exit door, especially with the anti-incumbency rapidly rising in the state. However, some MLAs are still hopeful that with the frequently changing political equations in Gujarat may force Modi and Shah to think otherwise.

In wake of the behavior from the ruling BJP’s side towards the Patidars and constantly ignoring the community’s demand of reservation, it has rebelled against the government. Patidars hold at least 20% of the population of Gujarat and are one of the oldest vote banks of the BJP. But since the party has been neglecting the demands, the Patidars under the Patidar quota agitation leader Hardik Patel are giving a thought to backing the opposition party Congress.

Taking advantage of the rising anger of the Patidars against the ruling BJP in Gujarat, Congress is on its toes, looking for a constitutional solution to fulfill the demand of 20% reservation to the Patidars for education and jobs. The party has also suggested that if it comes to power, it will even form a new law to grant quota to the Patidars. 

Whatever may be the call of the Patidar community, whether or not to support the Congress, one thing the Patidars are sure about is, defeat BJP. With Hardik in talks with Congress for a tie-up and the support of OBC leader Alpesh Thakor, who has merged his outfit with it, and Dalit leader Jignesh Mevani, Congress is a little confident.

The party had also announced during the Gujarat Rajya Sabha polls, when Ahmed Patel nailed the victory, that all loyal sitting MLAs will be given ticket this time. If this is how it goes, the party has already got candidates for 43 of its seats. However, there is a clash of interest between Hardik Patel and Jignesh Mewani over reservation demands, Congress most probably deal with the situation tactfully, while distributing the tickets.

Meanwhile, the BJP is keeping its members in suspense. On one hand, it might follow the old trends and deny tickets o sitting MLAs, while on the other it is even possible that before finalizing candidates, BJP is likely to keep the new caste equations in mind.

Hardik Patel, the Patidar leader, Alpesh Thakor the OBC leader and Jignesh Mewani the Dalit leader, all young, BJP may even think of casting young and fresh faces against them to face their challenges.

Congress has always used the formula of KHAM (Kshatriya, Harijan, Adivasi, Muslim) in accumulating votes and it may be useful this time also, though BJP might be successful in luring away the tribals in wake of the overtures to tribals in past few months. If the Patidars, OBC, Dalits, Kshatriya, Harijan, Adivasi, and Muslims are on Congress’s side than BJP is left with only the upper caste (Brahmin, Bania — 10%) and OBC (mainly Kolis — 20% by some estimates). Though BJP is still holding on to some loyal from the Patidars to back the party, but if antagonism is deep, Congress may gain the support of a sizable chunk of Patidars.

Congress had earlier said that the party may announce the list of candidates on 15 Nov, however, the party is also hoping that BJP announces the list prior to them. According to the sources from BJP, the committee meeting to finalize the names will be held later this week after Prime Minister Narendra Modi returns from the Asean summit on November 14. It is even being speculated that BJP may even wait for the ongoing talks between Hardik Patel and Congress, and the opposition to announce the list first.

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