The BJP has governed Gujarat for 22 years in a row; this election was seen as the closest in more than a decade in the PM's home state, with the Congress allying with three young leaders from sizeable caste groups including 24-year-old Hardik Patel. The result will be used to gauge if people are really discontent with the slowing economy, which was hit hard by the two mega-reforms of last year's notes ban and this year's new national sales tax or GST.
Here are the key seats in Gujarat election 2017:
The key constituencies will see a fierce face-off between Congress and BJP candidates. Some of the constituencies will also see a tough and neck and neck competition between the candidates. It will also be imperative for both the parties to retain some of the seats which have been their bastion for a long period of time.
Radhanpur- OBC leader in Gujarat Alpesh Thakor, 40, comes from Endla village of Ahmedabad district. He founded the Gujarat Kshatriya-Thakor Sena with an aim of liquor de-addiction in the community. He has also founded the OBC, SC, ST Ekta Manch, a social platform to demand proper reservations for people of the respective communities, shortly after the Patidar reservation agitation. Other Backward Castes or OBCs make up 40 per cent of Gujarat's population. Alpesh's own Thakore caste forms half of that group and is based mainly in the villages of north and central Gujarat. He is seen as part of a triumvirate that includes Hardik Patel and Jignesh Mevani, young activists who have challenged the BJP government in Gujarat recently, drawing large crowds at their public rallies.
Maninagar - This seat has been in BJP's kitty since 1990. When PM Modi was the Chief Minister of Gujarat he contested from this constituency. This year the seat is defended by sitting BJP MLA Sureshbhai Patel and Congress candidate Shweta Brahmbhatt, a youth investment banker. The constituency was represented by BJP leader Kamlesh Patel from 1990 to 1998. While Prime Minister Narendra Modi won thrice from the seat in 2002, 2007 and 2012 and served as the Chief Minister of the state.
Rajkot (West) - Bharatiya Janata Party announced Chief Minister Vijaybhai Rupani as their candidate from the Rajkot West seat. Congress fielded Indraneel Rajyaguru from the same seat, who is also believed to be the Chief Ministerial candidate for Congress in the state. This is the largest constituency in the Saurashtra region with over 3.15 lakh voters. Indraneel Rajyaguru is the sitting Congress MLA from Rajkot (East). This seat has been with the BJP since 1985.
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