The Congress party released its second list of candidates nominated for 13 Assembly seats. In the latest list, Congress has changed names on four Assembly seats from the 77 mentioned in the first list, to accommodate Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS) nominees.
The first list of Congress candidates released on Sunday, had upset the PAAS leader Hardik Patel and its workers, triggering clashes between PAAS and Congress workers mainly in Surat.
The main bone of contention was the exclusion of the name of Dhiru Gajera, who has been supporting the Patidar agitation from the beginning and is an ex-BJP leader.
Gajera, a Surat-based diamantaire, is a popular PAAS leader in the region and his family is known for their social and religious inclinations.
Dhiru Gajera’s elder brother Vasant Gajera is a revered personality in the Leuva Patidar community and is also a trustee in Khodaldham in Rajkot’s Kagvad, a powerful and an influential religious center especially for the Leuva Patidar community.
Congress’s reluctance for Dhiru Gajera probably came from the fact that Gajera had been unsuccessful in last two outings from Varachha, first as an independent candidate (ex-BJP MLA) in 2007 and then as a Congress candidate in 2012. He lost the seat both the times with substantial margins.
Congress and Hardik both were lying low after the much-publicised face-off on Sunday but the Congress blinked first to give-in to PAAS’s request for better representation. Congress has placated the Patidars with three of its candidates being given nominations.
Now, Dhiru Gajera will fight from Varchcha, a Patel dominated constituency in Surat. The other PAAS members being accommodated are Saurashtra convener from Dhoraji Lalit Vasoya and Ashok Jirawala, who will be contesting from Kamrej Assembly seat in Surat.
By giving in to the demands of the PAAS workers, Congress has denied ticket to PAAS leader, Amit Thummar whose name had appeared in the first list as a candidate from Junagadh.
The main changes carried on by Congress are – Junagadh seat will now have Bhikhabhai Joshi instead of Amit Thummar; Bharuch will have Jaish Patel instead of Kiran Thakor; Kamraj will have Ashok Jirawala instead of Nilesh Kumbani and Varachha Road will have Dhiru Gajera as Congress candidate in place of Praful C Togadiya, who is nephew of the VHP leader Pravin Togadiya, a known Sonia Gandhi opponent for her foreign credentials.
The other interesting seat changes by the Congress include: moving Shaktisinh Gohil from his current seat of Abdasa to Mandavi. Abdasa seat has now gone to Pradyumansinh Jadeja. Another important shift is moving Indranil Rajyaguru from Rajkot East to Rajkot West to face the Chief Minister Vijay Rupani. The Rajkot East seat has been given to Mithul Donga.