Ahmedabad: On the last day for candidates to file nomination papers for the first phase of the Gujarat assembly elections, the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) witnessed rebellions from senior party leaders, including a former minister who accused the party of selling a nomination as well as the BJP’s parliamentary secretary.

Former minister Ranjitsinh Jhala caused much embarrassment for the BJP by walking out of the party alleging that the high command had given the mandate for the Wadhwan seat in Surendranagar district to a rank outsider, industrialist Dhanji Patel, instead of the sitting legislator Varshaben Doshi because he had paid Rs9 crore.

“I had not asked for a ticket for myself, but how can I tolerate such a gross malpractice of fielding a candidate on monetary consideration,” Jhala said.

BJP spokesperson and former minister I.K. Jadeja, too, had sought the Wadhwan mandate but had been turned down by the party. Jadeja is considered to be close to former chief minister Anandiben Patel, who is at loggerheads with Amit Shah, the BJP’s national president.

Jadeja’s supporters gathered at the state BJP headquarters in Gandhinagar and raised slogans against the party president.

Another member of the outgoing assembly, Jethabhai Solanki from the Kodinar constituency in Saurashtra, also resigned after he wasn’t given a ticket for the elections, which will be held in two phases on 9 and 14 December. Tuesday was the last date to submit nominations for the first phase; candidates for the second phase have till next Monday to file their nomination papers.

Solanki, a prominent Dalit face and the BJP’s parliamentary secretary, had won by a margin of 63,000 votes in the 2012 assembly elections.

The BJP has been facing protests from its rank and file ever since it announced its first list of 70 candidates on Friday. Local leaders have resigned in Vadodara, the predominantly tribal constituencies of Chhota Udepur and Bharuch district, Navsari in south Gujarat and Mahuva, Jasdan and Amreli in the Saurashtra region, with protests being reported from more than 40 assembly constituencies.

The ruling party late on Saturday released a second list of 36 names and, in an apparent attempt to placate the Patidar community that has been on the warpath against the BJP government, included as many as 15 Patel candidates in its third list of 28 on Monday.

Among the Patel candidates is former industries and petrochemicals minister Saurabh Patel, who is also considered to be close to Anandiben Patel. The MLA from Vadodara’s Akota constituency will, however, run for election from the Botad seat in Saurashtra, which he won in 1998, 2002 and 2007.

Among the surprise omissions is Anandiben Patel’s sister Vasuben Trivedi, who has been dropped from the Jamnagar South constituency to make way for senior BJP leader R.C. Faldu. Faldu had been angered over being dropped from the Jamnagar Rural constituency in lieu of Congress defector Raghavji Patel.

Diamond merchant Nanubhai Vanani, a minister of state and a bitter critic of Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS) convenor Hardik Patel, has been dropped from the Katargam seat in Surat along with the four other sitting legislators from the district. Surat has been a hub of protests from the Patidar community, which is demanding reservation in government jobs and educational institutions in Gujarat.

Nachiketa Desai is a senior journalist based in Ahmedabad and tweets at @nachiketadesai. The views expressed are his own.

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