The Bharatiya Janata Party on Tuesday announced its first list of 144 candidates for the Gujarat election, with Chief Minister Narendra Modi being allotted the Maninagar seat in Ahmedabad.
The list ended speculation that Modi would contest again from Rajkot-II, which he won in a bypoll after taking over the reins of power from Keshubhai Patel.
Rajkot-II has been given back to Finance Minister Vajubhai Vala, who had vacated it for Modi last year. It falls in the Saurasthra region.
The list contains the names of as many as 32 ministers and Assembly Speaker Dhirubhai Shah.
The prominent ministers re-nominated include former chief minister Sureshbhai Mehta, senior ministers Purshottambhai Rupala, Ashokbhai Bhatt, Purshottambhai Solanki, Anandiben Patel, Bharat Barot and Gordhanbhai Zadafia.
While the party has denied tickets to 12 sitting MLAs, it has retained 82, including Mayaben Kodnani, whose constituency Naroda witnessed one of the worst riots in the post-Godhra phase.
The name of former home minister Haren Pandya, a known detractor of the chief minister, does not figure in the first list as the party has not taken a decision on his Ellisbridge constituency, from where Modi had evinced interest to contest last time.
The BJP has also not named its candidate from Visavadar in Junagadh district held by former chief minister Keshubhai Patel in the last assembly.
Jainarain Vyas, who was Narmada minister in Patel's ministry and who had to resign following a tiff with the chief minister has been re-nominated from Sidhpur.
Naresh Kanodia, a leading Gujarati filmstar, is being fielded from Karjan (SC) constituency.
A former government servant Ramilaben Bara has been chosen to take on Congress Legislature Party leader Amarsinh Chaudhury from Khedbhramha (ST) constituency.
The 144-candidate list includes two former MPs, three former MLAs, ten belonging to the Scheduled Caste, 26 to the Scheduled Tribes and eight women.
The two former MPs are Somabhai Gandabhai from Wankaner and Shivlalbhai Vakeria from Jasdan.
Party sources said that a large number of Patels have been accommodated in a bid to mollify Keshubhai who wanted to ensure that his supporters are re-nominated.
The meeting was held on Monday night at the residence of Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and chaired by party president M Venkaiah Naidu.
Among those who attended the meeting included the Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, former chief minister Keshubhai Patel, Deputy Prime Minister Lal Kishenchand Advani, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pramod Mahajan, External Affairs Minister Jaswant Singh, former BJP president Kushbhau Thakre, Gujarat state unit president Rajindersinh and his predecessor Vajubhai Vala.
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