Modi Successor Anandiben Patel Faces First Big Test in Gujarat

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Gujarat Chief Minister Anandiben Patel during the bypoll campaign

Maninagar:  Narendra Modi's successor in Gujarat, Chief Minister Anandiben Patel faces her first big test on Saturday when by-elections will be held for nine assembly and one parliament seat. Campaigning ends today.

Ms Patel has a hard act to follow. In the national elections earlier this year, the BJP had won all 26 Lok Sabha seats in Gujarat. The party credits its spectacular win then to Mr Modi and is hoping that will extend to the by-elections.

These are the first elections in many years with Mr Modi not at the helm in Gujarat and there is pressure on Ms Patel, 72, to prove her leadership skills. Anandiben Patel was handpicked by Mr Modi in May this year for the chair he occupied for 13 years.  

Of the seats where by-elections will be held are two that Mr Modi vacated as he headed to Delhi to take over as Prime Minister. He vacated the Vadodara Lok Sabha seat, which he had contested as a second seat in the national elections, and his assembly seat of Maninagar in Ahmedabad.

The rival Congress, annihilated in the state, has focused its campaign on those two seats; it accuses Mr Modi of abandoning Vadodara in favour of Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh, which he chose to keep as his Lok Sabha constituency. Mr Modi won Vadodara by a near record high number of votes.

"The voters are with us since Narendra Modi has achieved his goal of becoming the prime minister and left his voters who had elected him high and dry,'' said Jatin Kella, the Congress candidate who hopes to win Maninagar, a seat Mr Modi held for 12 years.

Mr Kella's competitor Suresh Patel of the BJP believes the Modi factor will see him through in Maninagar. "Our honourable prime minister has worked tirelessly for the people of the state as a commoner and I also aspire to be a humble worker for the people of the constituency,'' said Mr Patel.

By-elections are also being held for eight seats that other BJP MLAs vacated after winning seats in Parliament. These are Anand, Limkheda, Deesa, Matar, Talaja, Tankara, Khambhalia  and Mangrol.



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