After facing rebel candidates on almost every third seat in Himachal Pradesh, the BJP is now facing a similar problem in its 27-year stronghold Gujarat, leading to mass suspensions of such leaders. It suspended 12 more, including a six-time MLA and two former MLAs, on Tuesday for filing nominations as independent candidates for the upcoming assembly elections after they were denied the party ticket.
The number is now up to 19. The suspension is for six years, during which they can’t remain members of the party.
Seven leaders were suspended earlier, after nomination-filing was done for the first phase to be held on December 1. The 12 suspended now are contesting in the second phase, which is on December 5.
This means at least 10 per cent of the 182 seats have a BJP rebel as candidate. Results will be out on December 8, along with Himachal’s.
The action came a day after the last date to withdraw nominations for the second phase. None of these BJP rebels opted out of the poll race despite a persuasion drive led by Union Minister Amit Shah.
On its ticket list, the BJP dropped over three dozen sitting MLAs, including five ministers, in what was billed as a generational shift. This was also meant to micro-manage the anti-incumbency sentiment against legislators as the party looks to strengthen its hold on PM Narendra Modi’s home state, where the AAP has mounted an aggressive campaign to become a challenger besides the Congress.
Those suspended include the sitting MLA of Vaghodia, Madhu Shrivastav, who is known to be strongman-politician with a history of police cases, including one related to the 2002 riots.
Former MLA of Padra, Dinu Patel, and ex-MLA of Bayad, Dhavalsinh Zala, are also on the list released by the state unit head, CR Paatil. Others include Kuldipsinh Raul (Savli), Khatubhai Pagi (Shehra), SM Khant (Lunawada), JP Patel (Lunawada), Ramesh Zala (Umreth), Amarshi Zala (Khambhat), Ramsinh Thakor (Kheralu), Mavji Desai (Dhanera) and Lebji Thakor (Deesa).