Ahemdabad: The rift between Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi and his Bihar counterpart Nitish Kumar is now evitable in the upcoming assembly polls in Gujarat with the latter decided not to campaign for his party candidates in the state. However, Janata Dal-United supremo Sharad Yadav and senior leader Shivanand Tiwari will campaign for their party candidates.
Interestingly, Nitish Kumar hadn’t allowed BJP’s poster boy Narendra Modi to campaign in Bihar in 2005 assembly elections.
JD-U to fight from 70 seats
JD-U Gujarat President Chandraraj Singhvi said that the party will contest for 70 seats in the assembly polls.
No Bihar BJP leaders to campaign in Gujarat
In its list of star campaigners for Gujarat elections provided to the Election Commission, BJP has neither listed any of its prominent Muslim faces nor any party leader from Bihar where it is in the power with ally JD-U for the last seven years.
The BJP, which has often fielded its Muslim leaders like Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi and Shahnawaz Hussain to clear party’s stand on contentious issues involving minorities, has decided not to field them as party campaigners in Gujarat despite a sizeable Muslim population in the state.
However, BJP spokesperson Nirmala Sitharaman on Friday ruled out the reports of BJP not fielding any Muslim face or leader from Bihar.
"Let me assure you that every leader from BJP who would go over to Gujarat will certainly be going over to campaign...We are certainly having most leaders campaign in Gujarat," Sitharaman has said on Friday.
Modi’s campaigners in Gujarat polls
BJP's campaign in Gujarat, where Chief Minister Narendra Modi is seeking a fourth consecutive term, will now be in the hands of senior leaders L K Advani, Nitin Gadkari, Arun Jaitley and Sushma Swaraj, besides Modi himself.
The BJP is also fielding its Chief Ministers Raman Singh, Shivraj Singh Chouhan, Prem Kumar Dhumal, Jagdish Shettar, Manohar Parrikar and Arjun Munda as its star campaigners during Gujarat polls, but has decided not to include Bihar's Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Modi in its list of campaigners.
The lone Muslim face who will be campaigning for BJP in Gujarat is Sufi Sant Mahebub Ali Baba, president of BJP's Gujarat State Laghumati Morcha.
Other leaders who will campaign for the party include former party presidents Rajnath Singh and Venkaiah Naidu, MPs Parshottam Rupala and Balbir Punj, Gopinath Munde and party's general secretary (organisation) Ram Lal.
While Hema Malini and Smriti Irani will add star value to the campaign, cricketer-turned-politician Navjot Singh Sidhu has also been listed as campaigners even though he is currently busy with television show "Big Boss".
State BJP leaders like Gujarat party chief R C Faldu, Vijay Rupani, Bharatsinh Parmar, Natuji Thakor, Kaushik Patel, Anandiben Patel, Bhupendrasinh Chudasama, Harin Pathak, Fakir Vaghela, Parshottam Solanki, Shankarbhai Vegad and Jayshriben Patel, President, Mahila Morcha, Gujarat alongwith Pradipsinh Vaghela, President of Yuva Morcha, will also campaign during the polls.
NCP star campaigners
The Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) which is fighting the assembly elections in alliance with the Congress will have NCP supremo and Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar, Union Minister Praful Patel and state president Jayant Patel as the star campaigners.
Upset over the seat distribution, NCP has openly expressed its dissatisfaction with the Congress.
“We want a decent share of the seats. Last time, we had contested eight seats (and bagged three in the 182-member house), but this time we shall ask for more. NCP will take it up with the Congress leadership,” Pawar has said.
BSP out of the scene
With the BSP Gujarat unit leaders joining Gujarat Parivartan Party (GPP), the new party floated by Keshubhai Patel, en masse, Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj Party has failed to mark its presence in the assembly polls.
Apart from state president of BSP, general secretaries, heads of district level units and taluka presidents had joined the GPP.
Amit Shah to contest Gujarat polls?
Amidst the BJP leaders gearing up to retain power in the state, speculations over contesting former Gujarat Home Minister Amit Shah, who is charge sheeted in the alleged Tulsiram Prajapati fake encounter case, remain high.
However, the curtain may get removed in the coming days but Shah’s wife and son are not contesting in the assembly polls.