The Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP) suspended 12 party leaders, including 6-term MLA Madhu Shrivastav and two former legislators, for filing nominations as independent candidates for the state assembly election after they were denied tickets. The seats up for election in the first round of voting on December 1 are being contested by 7 candidates. The Gujarat BJP president, CR Paatil, has now suspended 12 additional leaders who are running as unofficial candidates in Assembly seats where voting will take place in the second round on December 5.
Notably, the deadline for withdrawing nominations for the 93 seats for election in the second round was November 21. None of the BJP rebels chose to withdraw from the election, inviting punishment from the party. These leaders, who will now fight against BJP candidates on 11 seats of north and central Gujarat, include sitting MLA of Vaghodia (Vadodara district) Madhu Shrivastav. Former MLA of Padra, Dinu Patel and ex-MLA of Bayad, Dhavalsinh Zala, were also among the 12 who were punished by the party.
Others include Kuldipsinh Raul (Savli), Khatubhai Pagi (Shehra), SM Khant (Lunawada), JP Patel (Lunawada), Ramesh Zala (Umreth), Amarshi Zala (Khambhat), Ramsinh Thakor (Kheralu), Mavji Desai (Dhanera) and Lebji Thakor (Deesa constituency). According to C R Paatil they are being suspended.
Paatil said that it is customary to suspend leaders who run against party candidates as independents if they fail to withdraw their nominations by the deadline for doing so.
AAP fields more Cong turncoats than BJP
While the BJP has fielded 19 Congress turncoats who jumped ship over the past five years, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has gone further by naming over 25 former state level Congress leaders as candidates for the assembly election.
These leaders switched over to the Arvind Kejrwalled party over the past few months.
A number of other lower rung – district and taluka level office-bearers – of the Congress party have also been accommodated by AAP in ticket distribution, as the party looks to expand its base in the state.
Cong too fields BJP rebels
While the trend of Congress turncoats being fielded by the BJP is not new to Gujarat’s politics, several BJP leaders are contesting this election either as Congress candidates or independents after being denied tickets by the BJP.
After getting the cold shoulder for the BJP ticket for the Mandvi seat in Kutch, Rajendrasinh Jadeja switched the Congress and was named as its candidate from the seat. In Panchmahal district, strongman and former BJP MP Prabhatsinh Chauhan, who recently quit the BJP, is contesting from the Kalol seat as a Congress candidate.