Gandhinagar : Having hit rock bottom, the Congress has little to lose and the ruling BJP quite a bit in the forthcoming byelections to one Lok Sabha and nine Vidhan Sabha seats due on September 13.
Though the outcome of the by-elections in Gujarat will not materially alter the situation in any manner, this will be the first major Vidhan Sabha engagement between the two traditional political rivals after Anandiben Patel took over as chief minister, and therefore its importance.
However, a decisive victory in the ensuing elections is a must for Chief Minister Anandiben Patel who has still to prove that she is a worthy successor to Modi who had turned winning elections for the BJP into a habit in Gujarat be it panchayats, municipal corporations, Assembly or Lok Sabha. Patel who has Modi’s backing is under scrutiny, more inside her own party than outside and therefore the need for a win these by-polls to consolidate her hold though she made a good beginning by wresting the Junagadh municipal corporation from the Congress for her party in the just concluded elections.
While the Congress on Monday announced five of its nine candidates, BJP followed it up, declaring all the nine names on Tuesday.
The bulk of the seats fell vacant as the BJP had fielded 9 sitting legislators, including chief minister Narendra Modi for the lok Sabha elections. All the nine won as the BJP swept all the 26 lok sabha seats from Gujarat leaving the Congress totally bankrupt of representation. Modi who had contested the Lok Sabha polls ,both from Vadodara and Benaras vacated the former seat causing a Lok Sabha by-election. Ranjanben Bhatt, the deputy mayor of the Vadodara municipal corporation shall replace Modi as the BJP candidate for the solitary Lok Sabha by-election seat. She will face Narendra Ravat, the president of the city Congress. Ravat had initially been selected through the primaries as the party nominee but was replaced by Madhusudan Mistry, Congress general secretary after Modi decided to contest from Vadodara. Modi trounced Mistry by a record margin of 5,70,000 votes in the 2014 general elections.
Though there are no big names in the fray so far from both sides, the Congress has a line-up of top names who suffered humiliating defeats in the 2014 general elections. These included union ministers Dinsha Patel, Bharat Solanki, son of former chief minister Madhavsinh Solanki, Tushar Chaudhary son of former chief minister Amarsinh Chaudhary and leader of the Congress Opposition in the Gujarat Vidhan Sabha, Shankersinh Vaghela. It remains to be seen whether any of these names figure in the list of names remaining to be declared. The seats due for by-elections are Tankara,Khambhaliya,Mangrol and Talaja in Saurashtra region,Anand,Matar and Limkheda in central Gujarat,Deesa in north Gujarat and Modi’s vidhan sabha constituency of Maninagar in Ahmedabad.