Ahmedabad, Apr 27 UNI | 3 months ago

Amid the cacophony of campaigning for the 26 Lok Sabha constituencies in Gujarat, the seven Assembly seats, where bypolls are being held simultaneously on April 30, stand sidelined in the high-pitched electioneering.

Along with the Lok Sabha constituencies, seven Assembly seats of Rapar, Abdasa, Lathi, Somnath, Visavadar, Himmatnagar and Mandvi will go to polls next week.

The elections to these seats, barring Visavadar and Rapar, have been necessitated after Congress MLAs quit and joined BJP.

The MLAs who crossed over to BJP from Congress early this year include Chhabil Patel (Abdasa), Prabhu Vasava (Mandvi), Rajendrasinh Chavda (Himmatnagar), Jasa Barad (Somnath) and Bavku Unghad (Lathi).

The Visavadar seat fell vacant after GPP president and former chief minister Keshubhai Patel resigned from the House citing health reasons.

The Rapar seat fell vacant due to the death of sitting BJP MLA Vaghaji Patel in January this year.

Senior leaders of both the main parties are busy with the campaigning for the Parliamentary seats.

Gujarat Chief Minister and BJP's prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi, who is contesting the elections from Vadodara in Gujarat and Varanasi in UP, is working hard to garner absolute majority in the next Lok Sabha by touring across the country.

Leader of Opposition in the Assembly Shankersinh Vaghela too has jumped into the fray from Sabarkantha Lok Sabha constituency and has little time to canvass for the candidates for the Assembly elections.

Still, the Assembly bypolls have assumed significance as their results are likely to have a bearing on the post-general elections scenario in the state.

If BJP is able to get a comfortable majority and invited to form the next government at the Centre, Mr Modi will move to Delhi.

This could give a chance to Congress to strengthen its party base in the state.

Keeping in view this consideration, Congress seems to have fielded Shaktisinh Gohil, former Leader of Opposition, from Abdasa Assembly constituency in Kutch region.

Mr Gohil had lost from Bhavnagar Rural constituency in 2012 Assembly elections.

According to political observers here, if Mr Vaghela wins from Sabarkantha and decides to move to Delhi, then Mr Gohil is likely to fill in the space left by Mr Vaghela.

Mr Gohil's record as an aggressive opposition leader could tilt the balance in his favour, when it comes to appointing a new opposition leader.

Abdasa seat fell vacant following the resignation of Congress sitting MLA Chhabil Patel, who quit the party to join BJP a couple of months ago. BJP has re-deployed Mr Patel against Mr Gohil.

State BJP leaders are concentrating more on Abdasa than any other Assembly seat to ensure the defeat of Mr Gohil.

According to political observers, since Abdasa has a sizeable population of Rajput comm

UNI ty and the Congress' tradional voters like Muslims and dalits, Mr Gohil could bank on their support.

In the neighbouring Rapar seat, the Congress has deployed its old guard Babubhai Shah while the BJP has fielded Pankaj Mehta.

Apart from Babhubhai Shah's own clout, Congress seems to be expecting the ripple effect of Mr Gohil's presence in neighbouring Abdasa.

In Lathi seat of Amreli district, BJP has fielded Bavku Undhad, whose resignation from Congress necessitated the bypoll on the seat. Congress has fielded Hanubhai Dhorajia, a BJP rebel from the seat.

On Visavadar seat in Saurashtra, BJP has fielded Bharat Patel, son of former chief minister and Mr Modi's bete noire Keshubhai Patel. Congress has fielded Harshad Ribadia.

Mr Patel seems to hoping for the benefit of his father's clout among the voters, as well as the Modi wave.

Both Bavku Undhad and Bharat Patel have criticised Mr Modi in the past and now they are contesting the polls from the party led by him.

In Himmatnagar of Sabarkantha, BJP has fielded Rajendrasinh Chavda, who had defected to the party few months ago.

Congress has deployed Vipul Patel from the seat. The political observers point out that since Congress stalwart Shankersinh Vaghela is contesting Lok Sabha polls from Sabarkantha, Mr Patel could be benefitted from his presence.

In Somnath of Saurashtra, BJP has fielded Jasha Barad, a local veteran against Congress' Nishant Chotai.

From South Gujarat's Mandavi seat, BJP has fielded Hemlata Vasava, while Congress has fielded Anand Chaudhary.

(Posted on 27-04-2014)