New Delhi: Amit Shah, a former minister in Narendra Modi's Gujarat cabinet and a powerful BJP leader will contest next month's assembly elections from Naranpura in Ahmedabad. Mr Shah is one of the accused in the Sohrabuddin Sheikh and Tulsi Prajapati alleged fake encounter cases and is out on bail.
Mr Shah had won the last assembly elections from Sarkhej with a vote margin even bigger than Mr Modi's. Sarkhej has, after delimitation, been split into three constituencies, one of which is Naranpura. He is known to be close to Mr Modi and held many portfolios in his cabinet before he was arrested in the Sohrabuddin case in July 2010.
Mr Shah was granted bail after three months in jail and was ordered by court not to return to Ahmedabad. The Supreme Court allowed him to return in September this year, rejecting a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) plea to cancel the bail granted to him.
Since his return to Ahmedabad, Mr Shah has largely kept a low profile. But last month, he said he would "not only be contesting the elections, but I am going to win this time also with a comfortable margin." The same day he quickly clarified that his statement had been "misconstrued" and that "It is for the party (BJP) to decide whether to give me ticket or not."
Sohrabuddin Shaikh, an alleged gangster, and his wife Kauser Bi, were allegedly abducted by Gujarat's Anti-Terrorism Squad from Hyderabad and murdered in a fake encounter near Gandhinagar in November 2005. Tulsiram Prajapati, a witness, was also allegedly killed by the police in December 2006.
The CBI has, in its chargesheet, named Mr Shah as the kingpin in the Tulsi Prajapati encounter case. Acting on a petition filed by Mr Shah, the Supreme Court had stayed all the proceedings in the Prajapati case.
Mr Shah, an executive member of Central Board of Cricket Ahmedabad (CBCA), is also the Vice President of Gujarat Cricket Association (GCA).
The two-phase Gujarat elections will be held on December 13 and 17. The counting of votes will take place on December 20.
(With PTI inputs)