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Posted at: Mar 15, 2019, 7:15 AM; last updated: Mar 15, 2019, 7:15 AM (IST)

Shah may replace Advani in Gandhinagar

BJP likely to drop one-third of Lok Sabha members in Gujarat to achieve ‘Mission 26’
Shah may replace Advani in Gandhinagar
Veteran BJP leader LK Advani may be asked to voluntarily drop his claim for re-nomination on grounds of advanced age. PTI file

Manas Dasgupta

Ahmedabad, March 14

Veteran BJP leader LK Advani is likely to be dropped from the BJP list of candidates from Gujarat this time.

Sources said Advani, who represented the Gujarat capital city seat of Gandhinagar for the last six terms, would be approached by the party leaders to voluntarily drop his claim for re-nomination on grounds of advanced age.

In the event of dropping Advani, the BJP is contemplating to field its national president Amit Shah, currently a member of the Rajya Sabha, for the Gandhinagar seat. Shah is likely to contest if PM Narendra Modi preferred to re-contest only from the Varanasi seat in UP, and not a second seat in Gujarat, as he did in 2014 when he also contested from Vadodara. The party believes that the presence of either Modi or Shah in one of the seats in Gujarat would be important to achieve its “Mission 26” goal to retain all the 26 seats it won in the state last time.

Besides Advani, the BJP is all set to drop about one-third of the sitting members to introduce new faces in their places. Bollywood actor Paresh Raval, who was elected from Ahmedabad (East) in 2014, is also believed to be among the sitting members to be dropped as his performance in the last five years was claimed to be less than satisfactory. The BJP, which today began the process of taking “sense” of the party workers in each constituency over the choice of the candidates, however, claimed that Raval himself had expressed reluctance to contest again.

In addition, Vithhal Radariya, the Porbandar MP, is unlikely to contest on health grounds and former ministers Mansukh Vasava and Haribhai Chaudhary are also likely to be dropped.

In Congress, while “Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti” convener Hardik Patel’s name is believed to have figured as the lone name for Jamnagar in the list being prepared by the state leadership for final approval by the party high command, at least seven sitting party members of the state Assembly are also reported to be vying for ticket to contest the LS elections. Former MP Soma Patel for Surendranagar and Lalit Vasoya for Porbandar are considered to be among the most probable choices.

Despite Congress chief Rahul Gandhi’s optimism that Hardik was certain to win, his contesting the elections is still hanging in balance due to a court order pronouncing him guilty of rioting and arson and sentencing him and two others to two-year jail each. Though the verdict of the Visnagar court was stayed by the HC, it had not given a stay on the conviction without which Hardik would not be allowed to contest the elections.

Hardik had approached the HC for a stay on the conviction to enable him to file his nomination but when the matter came up before Justice RP Dholariya’s Bench, the judge recused stating “not before me.” At the request of Hardik’s advocate, he directed the registry to consider the issue urgently and put the matter before another judge by tomorrow.

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