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BJP drops 38 incumbent MLAs, bet on younger and newer faces to beat anti-establishment positions

Facing the prospect of anti-incumbency in Gujarat’s upcoming elections, the ruling BJP has refused tickets to as many as 38 incumbent MLAs, electing 69 of the incumbent lawmakers on the first list of candidates.

The list of 160 candidates out of a total of 182 was released Thursday by Union Minister Bhupendra Yadav. Notable names missing from the initial list include former Prime Minister Vijay Rupani, former Deputy Prime Minister Nitin Patel, former Minister RC Faldu and senior leader Pradipsinh Jadeja.

Yadav released the list and said the party wants to break its own record of 127 seats in the Assembly with 182 seats. “We will create a kind of record this time. In this election we will break our own record. We are aiming for 150 seats,” he says Yadav.

On Patidar leader Hardik Patel, who was the face of Congress in previous elections, who got a ticket, Gujarat BJP chief CR Patil said that new people and faces will strengthen the BJP. Patel, who had joined Congress in 2019 and later became the acting president of the state unit, had joined the BJP in June of this year.

“A boy joined Congress after starting a major movement. He soon became disillusioned and joined us. We will use his power,” Patil said, referring to Hardik Patel.

Asked if there are fears within the ranks of an uprising by sitting MLAs being denied tickets, Patil said: “Yes Gujarat hai. Gujarat mein karyakarta bagawat nahi karte (This is Gujarat. Party workers do not revolt here). The seniors who did not receive tickets are given new tasks. We asked them to perform newer tasks.”

In the run-up to the election, former CM Vijay Rupani had written to the party leadership that he would not fight this time. BJP leader Bhupendrasinh Chudasama has also announced that he will not contest the polls. Former Deputy CM Nitin Patel made a similar statement.

In the first list of candidates of the BJP, 14 women, 13 leaders of the Scheduled Caste and 24 of the Scheduled Tribe have been awarded tickets.

Congressional defectors Hardik Patel, Bhagvanbhai Barad and Mohansinh Rathva’s son Rajendrabhai Rathva have received tickets from Viramgam, Talala and Chhota Udepur respectively.

In a major move, the BJP settled former MLA Kantilal Amrutiya of Morbi but insisted that the tragedy of the October 30 bridge collapse – which claimed 135 lives – had nothing to do with the decision. After the British-era cable bridge collapsed on the Machchhu River in the town of Morbi, videos had captured Amrutiya jumping into the water to save people.

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