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Rebels, Keshubhai worry BJP in Junagadh
Prashant Saxena in Junagadh (Gujarat) | December 06, 2007 10:12 IST
The spectre of rebel candidates and refusal by dissident party heavyweight Keshubhai Patel hangs over Bharatiya Janata Party's bid to retain its dominance in Junagadh district known for the Patels' clout, a royal past and a coastline humming with fish trade.
The Junagadh district has 10 assembly seats. In the previous polls in 2002, BJP had won six and Congress four seats. That was the time when Keshubhai had actively campaigned for the party.
However, this time, the presence of rebel candidates and refusal by Keshubhai to join the campaign is worrying the saffron party.
A number of constituencies have the presence of independent candidates who have recently quit BJP.
Mahendra Mashroo, sitting BJP legislator from Junagarh city, had defeated his Congress rival by over 21,000 votes in 2002 polls. But this time, he will be fighting not only Congress, but also his party rebel in Markandbhai Bhatt.
The situation in Somnath, from where the then party chief Lal Kishenchand Advani had begun his controversial yatra to Ayodhya in 1990, is similar.
BJP candidate Rajsibhai Jotwa is facing a combined assault of Congress and party dissident Chunnibhai Gohail.
And in Visavdar, Keshubhai's constituency, BJP's Kanubhai Bhalra is making all-out efforts to convince rural voters that the Keshubhai affair is party's internal matter.
Congress too cannot breathe easy. At least three of its candidates have only recently joined BJP.
More than 8,000 security personnel will be deployed in Junagarh as nearly half of the 2,023 polling booths have been identified as sensitive, says Junagarh Superintendent of Police S M Katara.