In a couple of weeks, Gujarat will vote for its 26 Lok Sabha seats in the third phase of this year’s general elections. Both the BJP and the Congress took their own sweet time to calculate various permutations and combinations before declaring its list of candidates.Meanwhile, both parties have completely overlooked candidates from religious minorities, with the Congress issuing just one ticket – Sher Khan Pathan from Bharuch – and the BJP issuing tickets to none.Yet the list released by both parties only has handful of women candidates – six in BJP and only one from the Congress, out of a total of 26 each. That’s 23% and 3.8% respectively.However, the seats contested by these women are important, especially for the BJP as Mehsana, Vadodara, Surat, Jamnagar and Bhavnagar are key Lok Sabha Constituencies. The lone woman candidate in Congress will also fight for the important Ahmedabad (east) Seat, which went to BJP’s Paresh Rawal in 2014, thanks to the Modi wave. Gujarat CM regrets derogatory remarks by party MLAsBattle Stations at MehsanaPatidar-dominated Mehsana is headed for a close fight between the BJP and the Congress. The BJP has already drawn first blood by poaching Congress MLA from Unjha Asha Patel, who will also contest for the saffron party in the upcoming by-polls scheduled for 23 April.Yet the BJP went over several options to pick a candidate for Mehsana. Rumours were rife that deputy chief minister Nitin Patel is under huge pressure from the party high command to contest the polls from Mehsana.Finally, the party declared Shardaben Patel as the candidate for the seat, replacing two-time MP from Mehsana Jayshreeben Patel. Shardaben’s late husband Anil Patel was the industries minister in Gujarat and the founder of Ganpat university.She will take on Congress’s Ambalal Patel who is the richest candidate from Gujarat with declared assets worth Rs 69.9 crores. Not far behind, Shardaben Pates is the richest among women candidates with declared assets worth Rs 37.47 crore.The Patidar factor will play a huge role in Mehsana as the Congress managed to hurt BJP in its own backyard in the 2017 Assembly elections. In the 2014 general elections, Jayshreeben Patel won the seat for the BJP with 56.63% vote share.371 candidates in fray for 26 seats in GujaratEasy Pickings in Vadodara and JamnagarNarendra Modi had picked Vadodara as his second seat for the 2014 elections along with Varanasi and comfortably won both constituencies. The party immediately brought in Ranjanben Bhatt after PM Modi picked Varanasi over Vadodara, and Bhatt won the by-poll with a landslide margin.The party has continued its faith in Bhatt, who has started an intensive campaign across Vadodara district. Political analysts have already declared the seat for Bhatt who won the Vadodara by-poll with a whopping 71% vote share, just 1% shy of Modi’s 72% vote share for the same seat in the 2014 general elections.Bhatt takes on former Vadodara district Congress president, Prashant Patel. The last time the Congress won the seat was in 1996.Similarly, Jamnagar has become yet another easy picking for the BJP after the Gujarat High Court refused to stay Hardik Patel’s conviction in a 2015 rioting case. Hardik was keen on fighting from Jamnagar for the Congress. Now the Congress has fielded Mulubhai Kandoriya to take on BJP’s Poonam Madam.Poonam Madam won the seat in 2014 after defeating her distant relative Vikram Madam with a 56.81% vote share. Madam belongs to the Ahir community who are a force to reckon with in Jamnagar and she also belongs to a family with a strong political lineage.Her late father Hemantbhai Madam had won the Khambalia Assembly seat in Jamnagar district four times as an independent candidate and was also elected as the Mayor of Jamnagar thrice.Gujarat BJP MLA gets EC notice for threatening votersUrban Voters to BJP’s Rescue in Bhavnagar and SuratThe BJP has repeated its MPs Bharti Shiyal and Darshana Jardosh from Bhavnagar and Surat respectively. Both seats are BJP fortresses as the party has never lost Bhavnagar since 1991 and Surat since 1984.Although political pundits have written off the Congress from Bhavnagar, the rural belts of the constituency have seen a major backlash against the BJP, thanks to rampant land acquisition in the villages for coal-based power generation plants.In 2014, Shiyal, who was an MLA from Talaja Assembly Constituency in Bhavnagar district, won the Lok Sabha seat with 59.9% vote share.Meanwhile in Surat, initial surveys indicated rising anti-incumbency among the citizens thanks to demonetisation and hasty implementation of GST. However, when The Quint took to the streets of Surat, not a single voice spoke against the saffron party. Surtis continue to laud BJP’s developmental work done in the city. This is a huge positive for sitting MP Darshana Jardosh, whose name was declared by the party a couple of days before 4 April – the last day to file nominations.Jardosh has won the seat twice since 2009 and in her last outing, she clinched the seat with an unassailable 75% vote share. Surat is dominated by Koli Patels and Patidars from Saurashtra who are in the diamond business. Local BJP cadres had requested for a Patidar candidate from Surat but in the end, Jardosh’s name prevailed.No Muslim LS MP From Gujarat, ‘BJP’s Hindutva Lab’, Post 1984New Faces in Ahmedabad (East) & Chotta UdaipurThe Congress picked Patidar leader and Hardik Patel’s close of aide, Geeta Patel, as candidate for the Ahmedabad (east) constituency. With Hardik’s election prospects snuffed out by the Gujarat High Court, the Congress picked the female voice of the Patidar movement.She will contest against Hasmukh S Patel from the BJP. Both the Congress and BJP ended the tradition of nominating a Brahmin candidate for the Ahmedabad (east) seat in this election season.The constituency is dominated by Patidars and the Congress hopes that Geeta Patel’s credentials coupled with Hardik Patel’s star power can dent the BJP’s chances.Meanwhile, the BJP picked Geeta Rathwa to contest from the Chotta Udaipur seat against Congress candidate Ranjit Rathwa.The seat is reserved for Schedules Tribes and both candidates belong to the influential Rathwa tribe. Incidentally, Geeta Rathwa is also one of the poorest candidates in the state with assets declared to the tune of Rs 6.07 lakhs, with no land or property to her name.Between 1999 and 2014, the Congress has won the seat just once – in 2004. In the 2014 elections, BJP’s Ramsinh Rathwa won the seat with 55.24% vote share.Political analysts have claimed that the saffron party will not be able to repeat its 2014 clean sweep of the state. However, barring Rathwa, all women candidates from BJP are contesting from urban seats where the party is expected to fare well.59 Registered, Unrecognised Parties Vie for Gujarat Lok Sabha Pie We'll get through this! Meanwhile, here's all you need to know about the Coronavirus outbreak to keep yourself safe, informed, and updated. The Quint is now available on Telegram & WhatsApp too, Click here to join.