Gujarat polls: Mehsana MLA Nitin Patel not contesting but still a factor in district
BJP leader and former deputy chief minister Nitin Patel's name features prominently in poll rallies in his home turf Mehsana ahead of the Gujarat assembly elections, despite the Patidar heavyweight not being fielded by his party this time.
The party's banners across the state usually have five faces on it – Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the front, Amit Shah and J P Nadda on one side, and Gujarat Chief Minister Bhupendra Patel and C R Patil on the other. But in Mehsana, Nitin Patel also features in the posters, a proof of his popularity in the district.
The BJP has field its Mehsana city unit president Mukesh Patel from the segment for the upcoming assembly elections.
Considered a protege of Nitin Patel, Mukesh Patel describes the outgoing MLA as the ''Vikas Purush'' of Mehsana in his speeches and himself as his ''nominee''.
The 66-year-old Kadva Patidar leader won the Mehsana assembly seat in the 2017 elections. The district was then the hotbed of the Patidar agitation. The BJP had lost heavily in other districts of northern Gujarat due to the agitation but was able to hold its ground in Nitin Patel's home district and won five out of the seven seats here.
Nitin Patel was once considered only second to Chief Minister Anandiben Patel in her government and was later appointed deputy chief minister during Vijay Rupani's term.
Addressing poll rallies in the segment, the BJP nominee seeks votes in Nitin Patel's name.
''I was nominated by Nitinbhai as BJP's candidate from here and will continue the development work done by him,'' Mukesh said in his speech.
Campaigning for his replacement, the outgoing MLA recounts the development work done by him and underlines that he would remain active.
Local BJP workers here fondly talk about him and the elders also have a soft corner for him. They all hoped Patel remains active and the party employs his services.
Rakesh Patel, a middle-aged party worker, said 'Nitinbhai' kept the party vote intact in the entire Mehsana district and the party won five assembly segments last time.
''Hope the party continues using his services and nominates him to Rajya Sabha or gives him a ticket to Lok Sabha or appoints him governor,'' the BJP worker said.
But with Nitin Patel out of the fray, the Congress sees a ray of hope of winning this seat after more than three decades.
Holding small rallies in the assembly segment, Congress candidate P K Patel underlines the need for change in this Patidar-dominated assembly seat.
The Congress leader claimed the BJP dropped its senior leader as it was ''afraid'' it would lose. ''People should see how the BJP treats its senior leaders,'' he added.
Local Congress leader Prashant Thakor said Nitin Patel's absence from the election fray would have some impact in Mehsana.
The BJP has been winning this seat for the last 32 years. The seat has always witnessed a bipolar contest. Barring the Congress and the BJP candidates, deposits of 32 other nominees in the 2017 elections were forfeited.
(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)