Out of power since 1995, the Congress is leaving no stone unturned to snatch the mandate from the Narendra Modi-led BJP in Gujarat and has fielded three sitting MPs for the upcoming assembly battle, banking on their ‘winnability’.
Congress MP Somabhai G Patel, who was elected to Lok Sabha from Surendranagar in 2009, has filed his candidature from the Limbadi Assembly constituency which falls in the same district.
Vitthal Radadia, another Congress MP and who is facing criminal charges in the recent gun-totting incidence, is contesting the Assembly seat of Dhoraji in Rajkot district.
Radadia is an MP from Porbandar Lok Sabha constituency.
Similarly, party MP from Rajkot has been fielded for Assembly elections from Botad seat in Bhavnagar district.
“We want to use our full force and strength this time and have decided to pull all our resources to wrest power from BJP,” said Hriday Buch, one of the Gujarat Congress spokesperson.
“With a view to put winnable candidates and proven leaders of the state, sitting MPs have been asked to enter the assembly fray,” he added.
Congress has been waiting in the corridors of power for more than 17 years and now it is pulling all stops to oust the three-term BJP Government in the State.
Assembly elections are scheduled to be held in two phases, December 13 and 17 respectively.
“This is not just a strategy to ensure one Assembly seat, but a sitting MP can have the potential to impact positively on more than one Assembly seats as one Lok Sabha constituency generally consists of at least seven assembly areas,” said Somabhai Patel, who is the fourth term MP from Surendranagar.
Hailing from Viramgam (Ahmedabad district), he was first elected to the Lok Sabha in 1989 and now he has been pitted against BJP’s sitting MLA Kiritsinh J Rana.
“This time we want to form the Government and to achieve this party has asked me to contest Assembly elections,” he said.
Patel is the only Congress Parliamentarian this time who is contesting Assembly elections for the first time.
In comparison Vitthal Radadia and Kunwarji Bavalia, though both sitting MPs, had won state Assembly seats not only once or twice but five and four times respectively.
This time Radadia is pitted against BJP’s Haribhai Patel and Bavalia will fight against BJP’s Dr T D Mania.
All three leaders have been expected to translate their share of votes from Lok Sabha elections to at least 15 Congress candidates in their Parliamentary constituencies, ensuring a win.
Porbandar Lok Sabha constituency consists of seven Assembly seats and Congress has fielded Radadia from Dhoraji and his son Jayesh from Jetpur. Both constituencies are part of Porbandar Lok Sabha constituency.
Kunwarji Bawalia, though hailing from Jasdan in Rajkot district and MP from Rajkot parliamentary seat, has been given ticket for Botad Assembly seat in Bhavnagar district.
“Looking at the large Koli Patel voters in and around Bhavnagar, fielding Bawalia, a Koli Patel himself, is a best way to ensure winnability of seats in this district,” said one Congress leader.
However, reacting on the fact that Congress has brought three sitting MPs in the race of MLAs, BJP Vice-President Purshottam Rupala said this shows the bankruptcy of leadership in Congress.
“There are plenty of instances where a sitting MLA has been asked to contest Parliamentary elections. But when a political party calls its MP for the Assembly elections it shows that party does not have any other leaders whom it can bank upon,” he added.