Gujarat polls: 16 seats up for grabs in Ahmedabad

Ahmedabad
12 Dec 2017

As the clock ticks for the second phase of Assembly polls in central and north Gujarat on December 14, all eyes are on 39 lakh voters of 16 seats in the mega city, considered a stronghold of the BJP since the 90s.

During the 2012 Assembly polls, the BJP won 14 seats here, including Ghatlodia, Jamalpur-Khadia, Vejalpur, Vatva, Ellisbridge, Naranpura, Nikol, Naroda, Thakkarbapa Nagar, Bapunagar, Amraiwadi, Maninagar, Sabarmati and Asarwa(SC), while the Congress won two seats-Dariyapur and Danilimada(SC). Like other cities of Gujarat, the voters of this bustling urban centre have been standing firmly behind the BJP since the early 90s. At least five seats - Ghatlodia, Nikol, Maninagar, Sabarmati and Thakkarbapa Nagar - have a sizable population of Patidars. These areas witnessed violence and arson during the quota agitation led by Hardik Patel two years back.
Four seats - Jamalpur-Khadia, Dariyapur, Danilimada and Vejalpur - have a considerable number of Muslim voters.

The Maninagar constituency, represented by Prime Minister Narendra Modi thrice from 2002 till 2014 as then MLA and Gujarat chief minister, can easily be termed as the city's most high profile seat and a bastion of the BJP. In 2012, Modi won by a margin of over 86,000 votes. Following Modi's resignation from Maninagar after becoming the prime minister in 2014, BJP candidate Suresh Patel won the byelection from the seat, having around 52,000 Patidar voters, by a majority of over 49,000 votes. Patel, who has been renominated by the BJP, will now face Shweta Brahmnbhatt, the IIM-educated young face from Congress. Another important seat is Ghatlodia, once represented by former Gujarat chief minister Anandiben Patel. She had quit last year after the quota agitation, which had also gripped Ghatlodia where there were violent protests and arson by the Patidars. Respecting her "wish" of not wanting to contest the polls this time, the ruling party has given ticket to another senior party leader Bhupendra Patel. The adjoining seat is Naranpura, having around 40,000 Patidar voters.

It was earlier represented by BJP president Amit Shah, who resigned from it in August this year after being elected to the Rajya Sabha. The party has now fielded former minister Kaushik Patel, who is considered close to Shah. Though Patidars were known to be committed supporters of the saffron party since last two decades, the equations seem to have changed after the quota agitation and Hardik Patel's appeal to his community to "uproot BJP" this time. The other seats which might face the brunt of 'Patidar anger' are Thakkarbapa Nagar (having around 35,000 Patidar voters), Bapunagar (31,000), Nikol (52,000), Naroda (34,000) and Sabarmati (44,000). Amid the turmoil over Patidar votes, the old city's Jamalpur-Khadia seat is also in focus for different reasons.