BJP workers stage protest after release of first list

Ahemadabad: The Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) first list of 160 candidates for the Gujarat Assembly polls has led to protests by party workers at several places in the State.

In its first list announced on Thursday, the ruling party has denied tickets to as many as 38 sitting legislators, including several stalwarts, instead preferring fresh faces in a bid to effect a generational change in the party’s State leadership. Candidates for another 22 seats will be announced later.

The party has also given prominence to Congress turncoats, causing heartburns among its workers and cadres who will now have to work for them to ensure their victory in the State polls.

In Ahmedabad’s Naroda seat, the BJP gave a ticket to 29-year-old Payal Kukrani, whose father Manoj was convicted and awarded life imprisonment in the 2002 Naroda Patiya riots case. He is currently out on bail. Local party workers demanded that another candidate be fielded instead of Ms. Kukrani, whose mother Reshma is already a municipal councillor representing the party in Saijpur, Ahmedabad.

In Godhra, the BJP has repeated its sitting legislator C.K. Raulji, who was a member of the district jail advisory committee that unanimously recommended the premature release of the convicts serving life sentences in the Bilkis Bano rape and massacre case from the 2002 riots. Mr Raulji even defended the decision, contending that “their conduct was good and many of them were Brahmins so they have good sanskars.”

In fact, Mr. Raulji is also a Congress turncoat who had defected to the BJP during the late Congress leader Ahmed Patel’s Rajya Sabha election in 2017. He had won with a slender margin on the BJP ticket in the 2017 polls and has now been repeated by the party.

In several places in Saurashtra, the BJP faced protests by angry workers, including at Mahuva in the Bhavnagar district and in the Gadhada and Botad seats in the Botad district.

In Mahuva, the party has fielded the former legislator from the Talala seat, Shiva Gohil, who is not a local resident of Mahuva. The party workers have demanded that a local party leader be named as the candidate.

In Botad, the party has fielded a Congress turncoat. In Gadhada, a seat reserved for the Scheduled Caste community, a Dalit leader and former Rajya Sabha member has been fielded although he too is not a local resident of the area.

Similarly in Vaghodia, the party has denied a ticket to five-time legislator Madhu Srivastav, who may contest as an independent candidate. In another seat in the Vadodara district also, local leaders and workers have protested against the candidate selected by the party.

However, the State BJP leaders maintain that the workers will be pacified once all the candidates of the party have been announced. “Little reaction is natural but it will be taken care of in next 2-3 days,” a party leader said.