Gujarat assembly polls phase 1: A look at 7 key constituencies voting today
Gujarat Assembly polls: The ruling BJP is exuding confidence to retain the 27-year-long rule in the state, while the Congress is desperate to save its second position while Arvind Kejriwal`s AAP is making a gamble by trying to cash in on `anti-incumbency to get to power in Gujarat Assembly polls on Thursday.
New Delhi: In the first phase of Gujarat Assembly polls on Thursday, the ruling BJP is exuding confidence to retain the 27-year-long rule in the state, while the Congress is desparate to save its second position while Arvind Kejriwal`s AAP is making a gamble by trying to cash in on `anti-incumbency` and issues like inflation and unemployment to get to power. As the BJP looks to retain power and AAP aims to make inroads into the state, a fierce battle is expected on various seats. Of these crucial seats, a few key constituencies are:
1- Morbi: The first on the list is Morbi, which became a talking point following the recent tragic incident wherein a suspension bridge fell into the river claiming the lives of over 130 people. The BJP has fielded Kantilal Amrutiya, who replaced sitting MLA and Cabinet Minister Brijesh Merja, and he is up against Congress` Jayantilal Jerajbhai Patel and AAP`s Pankaj Ransariya. During the campaign, the Opposition parties raised the issue of "mismanagement" in the Morbi incident, and tried to corner the government.
Historically, the BJP won the Morbi Assembly seat in 1995, 1998, 2002, 2007, and 2012 before Amrutiya lost to Merja, who was in Congress in 2017. Merja joined BJP later and won the by-polls from Morbi again. The BJP has Merja with Amrutiya in 2022.
2- Rajkot West (Rajkot): Rajkot West is the seat where Prime Minister Narendra Modi previously contested a by-poll in 2002. Former chief minister Vijay Rupani had also contested the seat in the 2017 Assembly elections. The BJP has given a ticket to two-time Deputy Mayor Darshita Shah who is up against AAP`s Dinesh Joshi and Congress` Mansukhbhai.
The seat is considered a bastion of the BJP which the party has not lost since 1985. Rupani had won the seat by defeating Indranil Rajguru of INC with a margin of 53,755 votes in the 2017 Assembly elections.
3- Khambalia (Devbhoomi Dwarka): The seat gains significant attention as the AAP`s chief ministerial candidate Isudan Gadhvi is contesting from this constituency where he is confronted by BJP`s Mulu Ayar Bera and Congress` Vikram Madam. The battle is expected to be triangular with a close contest between the BJP and AAP. Congress is said to be strong as the party candidate Ahir Vikrambhai Arjanbhai Madam had won the seat in 2017. This time, Congress has replaced its candidate.
4- Devbhoomi Dwarka: Pabubha Manek, the BJP candidate who has not lost a single election in the last 32 years, is up against Congress` Malubhai Kandoria, and AAP candidate Nakum Lakhmanbhai Boghabhai. Manek had won the first three elections as an independent (1990, 95, 98), then joined the Congress and won the seat in 2002. Later, he won the Assembly elections of 2007, 2012 and 2017 on a BJP ticket.In the 2017 Gujarat Assembly polls, Manek won the seat by defeating Congress` Ahir Meraman Markhi with a margin of 5,739 votes.
5- Kutiyana (Porbandar): Kandhalbhai Jadeja, son of late don Santokben Sarmanbhai Jadeja, is contesting on the Samajwadi Party ticket. He had won the 2017 Assembly elections on the NCP ticket. Kandhalbhai, who quit the party recently after he was denied a ticket, is pitted against BJP`s Dheliben Odedra, AAP`s Bhimabhai Makvana, and Congress` Nathabhai Odedra.
6- Jamnagar North (Jamnagar): The seat is witnessing a battle between BJP`s Rivaba Jadeja, cricketer Ravindra Jadeja`s wife, and Congress` Bipendrasinh Jadeja and AAP`s Karsan Karmur. The BJP dropped the sitting MLA Dharmendrasinh Merubha who won the seat by defeating Congress candidate Ahir Jivanbhai Karubhai Kumbharvadiya in the 2017 Assembly elections. The seat came to the limelight after a political tussle between two members of the same family came to the fore with Rivaba, who is making her electoral debut, contesting from the BJP, and her sister-in-law and father-in-law campaigning for the Congress candidate.
7- Katargam (Surat): The seat is all set to witness an interesting battle this time in which AAP has fielded its state president Gopal Italia who is considered to be an influential Patidar leader, from the constituency. He played a key role in the Patidar quota agitation in 2015. He will face off against Congress candidate Kaplesh Variya, who belongs to the Prajapati community (OBC), and BJP candidate Vinodbhai Amrishbhai Mordiya.
(With ANI Inputs)