Ahmedabad: Alongside the elections to 26 Lok Sabha seats in Gujarat, by-polls to seven Assembly seats in the state will also be held on April 30, and a key contest will be seen in Abdasa between Congress`s Shaktisinh Gohil and Chhabil Patel of BJP who quit Congress recently.
Congress is banking on caste equations and anti-incumbency wave against BJP, while the ruling party candidates are asking for votes on good governance and the track record of Narendra Modi government.
The assembly by-election would be held for Abdasa (Kutch district), Himmatnagar (Sabarkantha), Somnath (Gir-Somnath), Lathi (Surendranagar), Visavadar (Junagadh), Rapar (Kutch) and Mandvi (Surat).
Congress has fielded its national spokesperson Shaktisinh Gohil from Abdasa, where he will be fighting against Chhabil Patel, who joined BJP after winning on Congress ticket and resigning as MLA, thereby forcing a by-election.
According to Congress leaders, Gohil`s presence in the fray will help other candiates in Kutch and Saurashtra. "Apart from Abdasa, Gohil`s presence is also helping our candidates in Rapar in Kutch. Gohil also managed to arrange visits of other senior leaders in Kutch for canvassing, which made our position stronger in Kutch," said a Congress leader.
The bypolls are being fought more on local issues. "In Kutch, our core issue will be the misuse of natural resources. Elsewhere, our candidates are taking up issues of how BJP ruined education system and health services. We are focusing on how BJP failed in bringing development to their areas," said Gujarat Congress spokesperson Manish Doshi.
Congress candidates elsewhere are: Dr Nishant Chotai from Somnath, Vipul Patel from Himmatnagar, Hanubhai Dhorajia from Lathi, Harshad Ribadia from Visavadar and Anand Chaudhari for Mandvi(ST) seat.
BJP candidates are Chhabil Patel from Abdasa, Bavku Undhad from Lathi, Jasa Barad from Somnath, Rajendrasinh Chavda from Himmatnagar and Hemlata Vasava from Mandvi. In Visavadar, BJP has given ticket to former Chief Minister Keshubhai Patel`s son Bharat Patel.
In Rapar seat, BJP has chosen Kutch district BJP president Pankaj Mehta after the sitting BJP MLA died following a cardiac arrest. Congress has fielded Babubhai Shah.
Congress believes that caste will play a crucial role in by-polls. "We gave ticket to a Patel in Himmatnagar, ensuring Patel vote swings towards Congress. Dr Nishat Chotai from Somnath is from Lohana cast, a prominent force in that area. Hanu Dhorajia of Lathi will make sure that Leuva Patel votes will be in Congress` favour," said a Congress leader.
BJP has chosen to ride on the "tried and tested" planks of development and good governance. "Just like Lok Sabha polls, our main issue in Assembly polls will be development and good governance, which BJP government gave to people. We are also asking voters to see the track record of BJP in speedy completion of work," said BJP media convener Harshad Patel.