The Bharatiya Janata Party on Friday released its first list of 70 candidates for the Gujarat elections, including five Congress rebels and 49 sitting MLAs.
The state's ruling party has fielded 16 fresh faces in its first list for elections to the 182-member Gujarat assembly, to be held in two phases on December 9 and 14.
The five Congress rebels who have been given tickets are Raghavji Patel, Dharmendrasinh Jadeja, Ramsinh Parmar, Mansinh Chauhan and C K Raolji. They had supported the BJP during the presidential election and during Congress leader Ahmed Patel's Rajya Sabha election.
The party has named Chief Minister Vijay Rupani as its candidate from Rajkot West. Deputy Chief Minister Nitinbhai Patel will contest from Mahesana and state party president Jitubhai Vaghani from Bhavnagar West.
Of the 70, 17 are Patels, 18 OBCs, three SCs and 11 STs, party sources said.
A majority of OBC candidates are Thakores followed by Kolis, the sources added.
The names were finalised by BJP's central election committee, which met on Wednesday.
The meeting, chaired by BJP president Amit Shah, was attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Home Minister Rajnath Singh and Minister of External Affairs Sushma Swaraj among others, party leaders said.
IMAGE: Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani with Prime Minister Narendra Modi ad Deputy Chief Minister Nitinbhai Patel. Photograph: @vijayrupanibjp/Twitter