Ticket and tantrums

Print edition : December 28, 2012

Shweta Bhatt. The suspended IPS officer's wife is in a direct fight with Narendra Modi.-PTI

TICKET allocation has caused an upheaval within the Congress in Gujarat. The entry of Shweta Bhatt, wife of the suspended IPS officer Sanjiv Bhatt, as the partys candidate in Maninagar in Ahmedabad West against Chief Minister Narendra Modi has delighted political watchers. Modi won the last two elections from Maninagar. On a request from Shweta Bhatt, the Keshubhai Patel-led Gujarat Parivartan Party (GPP) withdrew its candidate from the constituency so as to enable her to have a direct fight with Modi. The Congress, on its part, decided not to field a candidate against Keshubhai in Visavadar in Junagadh district.

While Shweta Bhatts candidature was a cause for jubilation in the Congress, other choices have enraged Congressmen and women. The stipulation that the partys candidature is open only to those who have not lost two consecutive elections and not lost in 2007 by more than 20,000 votes made selection a difficult exercise.

Former Deputy Chief Minister Narhari Amin struck the first discordant note when he asked his supporters not to campaign for the Congress because the party denied him the ticket from Gandhinagar South. Among his supporters are many heavyweights, including former Ahmedabad Mayor Himmatsinh Patel. Amin also asked his followers to resign from party posts. In response, the president of the Ahmedabad unit of the party submitted his resignation, as did 40 ward presidents and 18 municipal councillors, leaving crucial Ahmedabad seats open to the Bharatiya Janata Party.

In Kheda district, former Minister Shankarbhai Vaghela resigned from the Congress after he was denied the ticket from Mahudha, into which a part of his Chaklasi constituency was merged in the delimitation process. (Other parts of the constituency were merged with two other seats, Nadiad and Matar.) He was followed by 5,000 Congress workers, who also said they would not campaign for the party. Vaghela is now contesting as an independent from Mahudha.

Sonal Sapovadia, the Rajkot city womens cell president of the Congress, joined the BJP on the promise of the ticket, which the Congress had denied her. Former Rajkot Mayor Ashok Dangar also exited the Congress in favour of the BJP for the same reason.

As the Congress slowly seemed to fall into disarray, the BJP coolly declared a shocking choice of candidate. For the Naranpura seat in Ahmedabad, it fielded Amit Shah, the former Minister of State for Home who is facing charges in the Sohrabbuddin fake encounter case.

Lyla Bavadam
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