#IndiaDecidesOn18: Gujarat elections- Five key battles to watch out for
It's a prestige battle for the BJP as it attempts to retain control of Gujarat, PM Narendra Modi's home state, in the assembly elections. Votes will be counted tomorrow to decide the winners of the state which is still feeling the effects of the recent Patidar agitation. Here are five key seats to watch out for. What will or won't work for the BJP-Congress?
CM Vijay Rupani faces a tough battle in Rajkot West
CM Vijay Rupani (BJP) looks to defend Rajkot West, a BJP bastion since 1985, from Indranil Rajyaguru (Congress). 75,000 of the 3L voters are Patels, who have been actively agitating for quotas. Moreover, the Brahmin Rajyaguru may take away the 25,000 Brahmin votes in Rajkot West. The 25,000 Baniyas aren't happy with the BJP over demonetization/GST either. Will voters choose loyalty again?
Congress looks to exploit lack of development in Mandvi
Neither Virendrasinh Jadeja (BJP) nor Shaktisinh Gohil (Congress) belong to Mandvi, another BJP stronghold. However, Congress is looking to exploit the general sentiment that despite BJP claiming expenses of Rs. 1,200cr, the mineral-rich region still doesn't have a proper railway network nor water from the Narmada. With Kshatriyas, Muslims, Patidars and Dalits deciding the Kashtriya candidates' fate, Gohil's win might not be a surprise.
Hardik Patel might have left a mark in Mehsana
Apart from Deputy CM Nitin Patel (BJP) and Jivabhai Patel (Congress), 32 candidates are fighting in Mehsana. But these are bogus candidates to divide Congress's votes in the birthplace of the Patidar agitation, says a voter. In 2004, Jivabhai had defeated Nitin by 14,511 votes in Mehsana, where BJP lost its hold in 2015 local body elections. Hardik Patel's effect might just help Congress.
The charm of Congress's IIM-educated first-timer
For Maninagar, Narendra Modi's constituency before becoming PM, Congress has picked the foreign-educated first-timer Shweta Brahmbhatt, daughter of senior party leader Narendra Brahmbhatt, who received IIM training to be a politician. Then again, Suresh Patel (BJP) might capitalize on the fact that Maninagar, which houses the RSS headquarters, has been a BJP bastion since 1990. Will Brahmbhatt's focus on women and youths bring results?
New Congress entrant may pay dearly in Radhanpur
Alpesh Thakor, who recently joined the Congress, faces BJP's Lavingji Thakor in Radhanpur. Thakor thrust into popularity with his drive for prohibition through his Ekta Manch. However, the same drive might cost him the support of the Dalits and Adivasis in the constituency as "he has deprived them of liquor", a BJP member said. Mass support for rebel Congress might also dent Thakor's votebase.