Times of India

Cong fields ex-minister for Rajkot West bypoll

RAJKOT: The Gujarat Pradesh Congress Committee ( GPCC) has named Jayanti Kalariya, a former minister, as its candidate for Rajkot (West) assembly bypoll.

Kalariya, 70, had served as former cooperatives minister in Madhavsinh Solanki's government. He is a Kadva Patel and will take on BJP's Vijay Rupani.

Kalariya will file his nomination on Friday. The seat was vacated after Vajubhai Vala was made Karnataka governor. This seat is BJP's stronghold and Vala has been representing it since 1985.

Sources said that after the exit of Vala from active politics in Rajkot, Congress has sensed its chances and fielded a Kadva Patel candidate. There are around 55,000 Kadva Patel voters in the constituency.

"Though Kalariya is an aged person he is very well-respected in the Kadva Patel community as well as the other community in the city. He has a clean image as politician," a senior Congress leader said.

Meanwhile, Rupani filed his nomination form at Rajkot district collector's office on Thursday. Minister of state for environment Govind Patel, Vasuben Trivedi, Porbandar MP Vitthal Radadiya and health minister Nitin Patel were also present on the occasion.

The recent victories in Mangrol and Khambhaliya by-elections has emboldened the Congress as its candidates defeated BJP on its own turf. The party is looking to encash on the infighting in the city unit of BJP.