Narendra Modi, chief minister
Gujarat BJP ranks him from 1 to 10 as far as campaigning and strategising is concerned. Everyone else follows. The BJP is so dependent on him to win the elections that his own candidature does not even figure in the discussion. He happens to be an MLA from Maninagar.
Anandiben Patel, revenue minister
She is said to be the second most powerful person in the state government and the state BJP because of her proximity to Modi. Known as a hard task master, she is also seen as Modi’s successor in Gujarat if he moves to the Centre. She is seen as BJP’s role model among women leaders.
Saurabh Patel, MOS for finance, industry
He runs a chemical trading business and is the key liaison man between the state government and the party. He won Modi over when he successfully privatised the Gujarat Electricity Board. Modi’s controversial NaMo Gujarat cable and IPTV project was directly handled by him. He lacks mass following and won last election by very thin margin in Botad constituency of Bhavnagar, but he is a good logistics man.
Parshottam Rupala, RS MP, BJP’s vice-president
His home constituency Amreli defied the Hindutva wave in 2002 to defeat him against Congress greenhorn Paresh Dhanani after three consecutive wins. Yet, his ability to pull crowds is second only to Modi. His wit and rustic lines win him huge applauds.
Amit Shah, former moS (home)
Modi’s efficient election manager was relieved when the Supreme Court allowed him entry into Gujarat after two years. The CBI has named him as the mastermind in fake encounter killings of Sohrabuddin Sheikh and Tulsiram Prajapati and he faces arrest in the second case. Shah’s public appearance can take the campaign to a Congress-CBI vs BJP pitch.
Parindu Bhagat, BJP’s election manager
Popularly called Kakubhai, he is Modi’s legal eagle and trouble-shooter. He ran the Dhan Daan campaign where the party collected over Rs 150 crore from the public. A typical backroom boy, he is a master strategist. A lesser known fact about him is that he is related to BJP’s Rajya Sabha MP Arun Jaitley.
Vijay Rupani (BJP)
This former Keshubhai Patel supporter has, over the last 10 years, emerged as one of the most influential leaders in Saurashtra-Kutch and a close aide of Modi. Rupani, who was also Rajkot city mayor, was made a Rajya Sabha MP after his insightful selection of candidates for this region in 2002 and 2007 Assembly elections. A ticket aspirant for Rajkot West, it is unlikely that he pips colleague Vajubhai Vala who fights from here.
Vaju Vala, state’s finance minister
Since 1985, a decade before the BJP formed its first government in Gujarat, the astute Vala has become an indispensable MLA from Rajkot II (now Rajkot west). Apart from his six consecutive wins, he is hugely popular among senior leaders and BJP workers.
A minister from Keshubhai Patel cabinet, Vala won Modi’s heart by vacating Rajkot II seat for Modi’s first election to the Gujarat Assembly in February 2002 following his induction as CM in October 2001. After BJP lost its bastion of Rajkot to Congress in 2009 Lok Sabha elections, speculation is rife if that would impact Vala’s run for a seventh term.
Dileep Sanghani, fisheries minister
Four-term Lok Sabha MP and two-term MLA from Amreli, he is BJP’s Leuva Patel leader from the co-operative sector who could neutralise Keshubhai Patel. Tales of his friendship with Modi goes back to Delhi when the latter was a frequent guest at his official MP residence 1996 onwards, when Modi was ousted from Gujarat and posted in Delhi as general secretary. Sanghani, however, faces corruption charges in his own constituency Amreli following a campaign in this regard by an RTI activist whose wife is a Congress member.
Dinu Solanki (BJP)
A suspect in the murder of RTI activist Amit Jethava, Modi might have to rely on this MP who calls the shots in politically sensitive Junagadh district due to his clout stemming from his sprawling business ventures ranging from transportation to mining. Three-time MLA from Kodinar seat, he vacated it in 2009 and went on to become Junagadh MP. A relative of Finance Minister Vaju Vala, he is also very close to former home minister Amit Shah.
Purshottam Solanki, MOS (fisheries)
This junior fisheries minister and powerful Koli community leader popularly called “Bhai” has been sulking about the Modi government’s timid efforts to save him in an alleged Rs 400-crore fishing contracts scam. While Gujarat HC has ordered an investigation against him, this former TADA accused is demanding 22 tickets for the Kolis, who form the single largest voters’ segment in Gujarat. Post-delimitation, his constituency Ghogha in Bhavanagar stands dissolved.
R C Faldu, state BJP chief
The soft-spoken and mild-mannered state BJP chief is Modi’s answer to bete noire Keshubhai Patel’s attempt at mobilising Leuva Patels in Kutch-Saurashtra.
Faldu, a Leuva Patel farmer who twice represented Kalawad constituency in Jamnagar district, is the only BJP leader who has led an independent yatra, the Kisan Sandesh Yatra, earlier this year to highlight the Centre’s alleged injustice to Gujarat farmers during Modi’s 11-year rule.
Keshubhai Patel, GPP chief
BJP’s first chief minister in Gujarat and Modi-baiter, this 84-year old leader quit BJP to launch the Gujarat Parivartan Party and hopes to hold together a third force. Patel is riding high over possible support of the Leuva Patel community and could influence at least 20 seats in the Saurashtra region. Known as ‘Bapa’, Keshubhai’s tours to counter Modi could not only hurt the BJP but also the Congress.
Shankersingh Vaghela (Congress)
Former Gujarat chief minister and former union textile minister, he is chairman of the party’s election campaign committee. Popularly called “Bapu”, he is a crowd-puller and popular leader among Kshatriyas and OBCs.
With his RSS roots and BJP links, he is seen as Congress’s most fitting answer to Modi, though state party leaders do not trust him completely.
Kanu Kalsaria (BJP)
This BJP MLA from Mahuva defined himself as a rebel leader when he successfully led an agitation of farmers against the Modi government to stop a Nirma Cement plant from coming up in the coastal Mahuva. He plans to field candidates for five seats in Bhavnagar and Amreli districts from his newly launched Sadbhavna Manch. Having built considerable goodwill through his charitable hospital, called Sadbhavana, he is seen as leaning towards the Congress.
This Rajkot-based industrialist turned a meeting of Leuva Patels for building a temple for their community deity into an anti-Modi meeting earlier this year. He is close to Congress leaders like Vithal Radadiya and even Keshubhai Patel. As community leader, he maintains that the Leuva votes will turn in favour of whoever gives them importance.
Modi-baiters in the BJP are covertly working to ensure this man tours Gujarat during the elections. Usually reserved Joshi was forced to quit the BJP national executive earlier this year at the behest of Modi. However, having worked in Gujarat BJP’s organisation, he is reviving old links and could upset Modi’s apple cart.
Gordhan Zadaphia (GPP)
He was junior home minister in the Narendra Modi government during the 2002 riots but rebelled against him to form MahaGujarat Janta Party in 2008, which naturally merged into Keshubhai’s GPP. Zadaphia, who hails from Bhavnagar district, has added strength to the third front and may contest from his home seat.
Arjun Modhwadia (Congress)
An engineer-turned-politician, soft-spoken Modhwadia has been able to energise the party workers and local leaders after he took over the party a year-and-a-half ago. An MLA from Porbandar, the party under his leadership is giving a tough fight to Modi.
Shaktisinh Gohil (Congress)
A former minister and currently the Congress Legislature Party (CLP) leader, he is a lawyer and an MLA from Bhavnagar. He has been regularly attacking Modi on various issues.
Chhotu Vasava (JD-U)
This lone JD-U MLA, a maverick tribal from Jhagadia in Bharuch district, may be responsible for Modi vs Nitish Kumar chapter in the Gujarat electoral battle. The JD(U), an NDA ally, plans to contest at least 100 seats in Gujarat. The party contested 35 seats in 2007. Only Vasava won.
Narhari Amin (Cong)
A Leuva Patel from Aslali village on outskirts of Ahmedabad, he wields considerable influence over wealthy Patels.
His dabbling in the co-operative banking sector and cricket are his strengths. He was the longest-serving president of Gujarat Cricket Association before Modi took over. He also influences Gujarat University politics.
C R Paatil (BJP)
This MP from Navsari wields influence right from Surat to Navsari in South Gujarat. A Marathi, he is able to mobilise the community in favour of the BJP. His strength is his personalised reach. Be it a birthday or any event, Paatil’s SMS reaches the person.
Tushar Chaudhary (Congress) Son of former chief minister Amarsinh Chaudhary who was a powerful tribal leader, this union minister is seen as the Congress’s rising star. An MP from the tribal constituency of Bardoli, he has built considerable goodwill as a doctor.