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Gandhinagar: Cong recommends two leaders to challenge Advani

March 10, 2009 20:15 IST
The Gujarat Congress has recommended the names of two leaders for the high-profile Gandhinagar seat to take on Bharatiya Janata Party prime ministerial candidate and sitting Member of Parliament L K Advani in the coming Lok Sabha polls.

Suresh Patel, a two time Member of Legislative Assembly from Kalol assembly seat, and C J Chavda, former Gandhinagar MLA and trusted lieutenant of Union Textiles Minister Shankersinh Vaghela, are the front-runners for the Gandhinagar seat, party sources said.

"We have strongly recommended either Chavda or Patel's name for the Gandhinagar Lok Sabha seat," Congress spokesperson Arjun Modhvadia told PTI.

However, the final decision will be taken by the party high command in New Delhi, the sources said. The Congress had already announced that it would field a local candidate against Advani.

Advani has been representing the Gandhinagar Lok Sabha seat since 1991 but did not contest in 1996 after his name cropped up in the Hawala scam case. In 1996, Atal Bihari Vajpayee contested from both Lucknow and Gandhinagar and subsequently resigned from Gandhinagar after getting elected on both the seats.

The second list of Congress party candidates is likely to be announced after March 14 when the Central Election Committee meets for finalisation of names, Modhvadia said.

Following delimitation, the Gandhinagar Lok Sabha seat has seven assembly segments including Kalol, Sabarmati and newly-created segments like Vejalpur, Ghatlodia, Naranpura, Sanand and Gandhinagar North.

When contacted, Suresh Patel, considered a person with a "clean image", said he would go by the party's decision.

 "My name is there in the panel and if the party selects me, I will fight the Lok Sabha polls against Advani," he said.

The Gandhinagar constituency has three lakh Patel voters, four lakh OBC and about one lakh minority voters, he said. Patel, who had become an MLA from Kalol in 1998 had lost the seat in 2002 but wrested it back from the BJP in the 2007 assembly polls.

 Chavda, a bureaucrat-turned-politician is considered to be close to Vaghela. He has served as an Officer on Special Duty when Vaghela was Gujarat chief minister. The former MLA has a stronghold on OBC communities and is influential at the grassroot level, sources said.

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