In a seat with large number of Koli voters, BJP springs a surprise by replacing Koli MLA

This takes the total number of sitting MLAs dropped to 40 and the total number of BJP candidates declared to 166, in which, all 89 seats going to the polls on December 1 have been covered.

Of the six seats whose nominees were announced today, the names of Bhavnagar East MLA Vibhavari Dave, who was a minister in the Vijay Rupani Cabinet, and of Jankhana Patel, the sitting MLA from Choryasi, were missing. Sejal Pandya is the candidate for Bhavnagar East, while Choryasi goes to Sandeep Desai.

Not only is Choryasi the seat with the highest number of voters — five lakh — it also has a high number of Koli voters. Patel was a Koli, while Desai — the BJP Surat district president — is an Anahvil Brahmin. Party sources said there was anger in the area against the sitting MLA, among people of her own community. In comparison, Sandeep Desai, the current district BJP president who has completed two terms in the role, is popular due to his engagements with cooperative bodies like sugar, farmer, cooperative bank, and APMC etc., so he was chosen to fight his first election.

However, late afternoon on Saturday, some supporters of Jankhana Patel protested against the candidature of Sandip Desai in front of the Surat city BJP office. The party workers chanted slogans against Desai, saying they won’t accept a non-Koli candidate from Choryasi.

In 2017, Jankhana Patel had won Choryasi with a margin of over one lakh votes, defeating the Congress candidate Yogesh Patel. This year, the AAP has fielded Prakash Contractor and the Congress Kanti Patel from Choryasi, both Kolis.

Apart from Kolis, Choryasi has a large number of migrant voters from UP, Bihar, Odisha, Maharashtra, etc., who have settled in Surat and are engaged as labourers in the textile industry.

Talking to The Indian Express, Sandip Desai said, “There were around 58 BJP leaders who had expressed interest in contesting from this seat before the party’s election observers. The party kept faith in me and I will work hard with my team and come out victorious.”

The BJP also nominated an old-timer and former MLA Mulu Bera. Bera has been in and out of the Assembly, having won in 1995 by a thin margin, as well as in 2007, while losing in 2002 and 2012. This time, he will contest from a new constituency, Khambhaliya. He last contested from Jamnagar North in 2012.

From Kutiyana, where the NCP has nominated sitting MLA Kandhal Jadeja, the BJP will be represented by Dheliben Odedara.

(With ENS Ahmedabad)

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