From Morbi to Porbandar, the key constituencies in first phase of Gujarat polls
Voting for 89 seats is underway in Gujarat right now. While Morbi is important due to the recent tragedy, in Devbhoomi Dwarka, the BJP candidate has been winning for 32 years from different parties' tickets.
Ahmedabad, Dec 01: The polling for the first phase of Gujarat Assembly elections in 89 out of the total 182 seats are underway. The voting is held across 19 districts of Saurashtra-Kutch region and southern parts of the state to decide the fate of 788 candidates.
The voting is being held across 14,382 polling stations, of which 3,311 are in the urban and 11,071 in rural areas, the office of the state Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) said.
Let's take a look at key constituencies in the first phase:
The first on the list is Morbi after a pedestrian suspension bridge over the Machchhu River in the city of Morbi in Gujarat collapsed, causing the deaths of at least 135 people and injuries to more than 180 others on October 30. The opposition has used this issue to target the BJP government by making allegations of "mismanagement".
The BJP has won the Morbi Assembly seat in 1995, 1998, 2002, 2007 and 2012. However, it lost to Congress in 2017. This time, the BJP has fielded Kantilal Amrutiya against Congress' Jayantilal Jerajbhai Patel and AAP's Pankaj Ransariya.
This time, the BJP replaced sitting MLA and Cabinet Minister Brijesh Merja who was in Congress in 2017. He then joined BJP and won the by-polls from the constituency again.
Jamnagar North (Jamnagar)
Cricketer Ravindra Jadeja's wife Rivaba Jadeja is contesting from Jamnagar North. She is taking on Congress' Bipendrasinh Jadeja and AAP's Karsan Karmur. The interesting part of the story is that her her sister-in-law and father-in-law are campaigning for the Congress candidate, thus exposing the political tussle in the family.
Khambalia (Devbhoomi Dwarka)
All eyes are on this seat as the AAP's chief ministerial candidate Isudan Gadhvi is contesting from Khambalia. He is taking on BJP's Mulu Ayar Bera and Congress' Vikram Madam. Political pundits have predicted a triangular fight in this constituency although Congress candidate is favourite to win as it had emerged victorious in 2017.
Rajkot West (Rajkot)
This constituency is one of the strongholds of the BJP as it has not lost the seat since 1985. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had emerged victorious in 2002 and former Gujarat CM had also won the election in 2017. This time, two-time Deputy Mayor Darshita Shah is taking on AAP's Dinesh Joshi and Congress's Mansukhbhai.
Kandhalbhai Jadeja, son of late don Santokben Sarmanbhai Jadeja, is contesting on the Samajwadi Party ticket. He will take on BJP's Dheliben Odedra, AAP's Bhimabhai Makvana, and Congress' Nathabhai Odedra.
Talala (Gir Somnath)
The BJP has fielded Bhagwan Barad from the seat and he is taking on AAP's Devendra Solanki and Congress' Mansinh Dodiya. Barad had won the seat in the 2017 Assembly polls from the Congress ticket and later joined the BJP following which he was given a ticket from the same seat.
Porbandar seat expected to witness a tough battle between sitting MLA and four-time winner Babu Bokhiria and Congress candidate Arjun Modhwadia and AAP's Jeevan Jungi.
Bokhiria had won the seat in 1995, 1998, 2012 and 2017. In 2002 and 2007, Bokhiria was defeated by his arch-rival and former Gujarat Congress president Arjun Modhwadia. Both are face-to-face this time too.
For 32 years, Pabubha Manek has been winning this seat. He won the first three elections as an independent (1990, 95, 98), then joined the Congress and won the seat in 2002. Later, he won the BJP and won in 2007, 2012 and 2017. He is taking on Congress' Malubhai Kandoria, and AAP candidate Nakum Lakhmanbhai Boghabhai.
AAP state chief Gopal Italia is taking on Congress candidate Kaplesh Variya and BJP's Vinodbhai Amrishbhai Mordiya. Italia is an influential Patidar leader and played a key role in the Patidar quota agitation in 2015.