The main opposition Congress on Saturday criticised the Election Commission for announcing by-elections to only four Assembly seats in Gujarat and leaving out three other vacant seats.
The commission was acting under the BJP's pressure, it alleged.
The state BJP, on the other hand, expressed confidence that it will retain the four seats.
The ECI, earlier in the day, announced by-elections to Amraiwadi, Kheralu, Lunawada and Tharad in Gujarat on October 21. These seats fell vacant after the respective BJP MLAs were elected to the Lok Sabha.
MLA from Amraiwadi, Hasmukh Patel, won Lok Sabha election from Ahmedabad (East), while MLA from Kheralu, Bharatsinh Dabhi, was elected from Patan Lok Sabha seat.
Lunawada MLA Ratansinh Rathod won from Panchmahal and Tharad MLA Parbatbhai Patel won from Banaskantha.
Two other Assembly seats in the state -- Radhanpur and Bayad became vacant subsequently, after Congress MLAs Alpesh Thakor and Dhavalsinh Zala resigned as legislators to join the BJP.
Bhupendrasinh Khant, MLA from Morva Hadaf, a seat reserved for Scheduled Tribes, was disqualified for possessing an invalid caste certificate.
MLAs of Dwarka and Talala Assembly seats were also disqualified after they were convicted in criminal cases, but the matter of their disqualification is under litigation.
"The Election Commission was supposed to announce by-election to seven seats, but election for only four seats was announced. It clearly shows that the BJP has put pressure on the commission," state Congress chief Amit Chavda told reporters.
"Nevertheless, the Gujarat Congress is fully prepared for by-elections," he added.
The Congress has started the process of candidate selection for all seven seats, sources said.
As many as 50 party leaders showed interest in contesting these seven seats at a meeting held earlier in the day, sources added.
State BJP president Jitu Vaghani said his party was confident of retaining all four seats.
"The same people who elected their MPs will elect the MLAs....The central parliamentary board (of the BJP) will keep the interests and choice of party workers in mind while deciding on candidates," he said.
The Election Commission announced Saturday that bypolls to 64 assembly seats and one Lok Sabha constituency, spread across 18 states, will be held on October 21, and the counting of votes will be on October 24.
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