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MENAFN - Khaleej Times - 10/11/2012

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(MENAFN - Khaleej Times) Politics in Gujarat has always been dominated by only two parties-the now-ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Congress but other parties which secured 13 per cent of the votes polled in 2007, are again on the prowl.

This time around, 40-odd national but less influential and smaller parties, which have little or no presence in the bipolar state, are out to eat into the vote share of the two Big Brothers in the December 13 and 17 elections.

The preparations and promises made by the newly-formed parties of former BJP detractors like ex-chief minister Keshubhai Patel and legislator Kanu Kalsaria as well as the Samajwadi Party (SP), the Janata Dal-United (JD-U), the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and left parties are sure to worry even Machiavellian politicians like Chief Minister Narendra Modi.

It took the BJP 30 years to register 3.1 million members but Patel's Gujarat Parivartan Party (GPP) is proud of enrolling 1.5 million party faithfuls in just two months. At 83, the two-time chief minister in 1995 and 1998 has himself thrown his hat into the ring with his party bent on fighting from all the 182 constituencies up for grabs.

Patel, who has twice been chief minister in 1995 and 1998, has claimed to have fulfilled 66 per cent promises in the first 100 days after taking up the reins of Gujarat and announced a hefty allowances for jobless youths, land for landless cattle-breeders and food coupons for tribals, besides other promises made to the 38-million electorate.

Buoyed by the support of Arvind Kejriwal-led India Against Corruption, Dr Kanu Kalsaria, a rebel legislator of the BJP, is also fielding five candidates under the banner of his Sadbhavna Manch to challenge the BJP, the Congress and the GPP.

The Manch cannot be taken for granted as it had last year fought and won nine seats in taluka panchayats and two seats in district panchayats of Bhavnagar.

While the BJP and the Congress are still struggling to finalise their list of candidates, the SP has already released its first list of 53 contestants, including 17 Muslims to woo the 3.6 million hard-pressed men and women from the minority community in the saffron-ruled state.

Top SP leaders will hit the campaign trail with the party's state-of-the art 'Kranti Rath', a fully-customised, eight-seater 'lucky' bus that led the party to a resounding victory in the Uttar Pradesh polls earlier this year.

While the JD-U will contest from 40 seats focusing only on tribal development, the BSP, which had fielded 166 candidates in 2007, aims at becoming a kingmaker by contesting all 182 seats.

Left parties like the Communist Party of India (Marxist Leninist), the Jan Sangharsh Manch, the New Socialist Movement and the Trade Union Centre of India have also joined hands to enter the poll arena under a common platform, the Democratic Peoples' Forum. The latter has been holding rallies to highlight 'the evils of development and capitalist policies of the Modi government'.


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