BJP Fields Mohan Konkani, 1st Christian Candidate in 20 Yrs, in Congress Stronghold Vyara

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For the first time in 20 years, the BJP has fielded a lone Christian candidate Mohan Konkani on the Vyara seat for the two-phase Gujarat assembly polls scheduled next month. The 48-year-old Konkani will fight against Congress’s four-time MLA Punaji Gamit.

The Vyara assembly constituency, where nearly 45 per cent of the 2.23 lakh voters are Christians, comes under the tribal-dominated Tapi district. This Vyara seat is considered a Congress stronghold.

The 64-year-old Congress MLA Gamit, who converted to Christianity, has been holding the Vyara seat since 2007. In the 2017 polls, he won the seat by defeating BJP’s Chaudhari Arvindbhai Rumsibhai with a margin of 24,414 votes.

Social worker and farmer by profession, Konkani has been a Bharatiya Janata Party member since 1995. In the 2015 Tapi district panchayat polls, he defeated Congress’s cooperative leader Mavji Chaudhary.

Thanking the BJP leadership, Konkani was quoted by Hindustan Times as saying, “I am indebted to the party’s high command and the BJP for their trust and faith in me. On December 1, I will make history in Vyara and I am certain of it. The political atmosphere in Vyara has improved and I can count on the support of the constituency’s 72,000 Christian voters.”

On being asked about the saffron party’s pro-minority stand in Vyara, a senior BJP leader told Hindustan Times, “The Hindutva era has ended and now it’s ‘Sab Ka Saath, Sab Ka Vikas’.”

Meanwhile, senior BJP leaders, including its national president JP Nadda besides Union ministers and chief ministers, are expected to address public meetings on Friday in the 89 Gujarat assembly constituencies going to the polls in the first phase of elections on December 1.

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and his Madhya Pradesh counterpart Shivraj Singh Chouhan will address three and four rallies, respectively. Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and Union ministers VK Singh and Faggan Singh Kulaste are among other party leaders who will be addressing rallies.

Saurashtra, Kutch and south Gujarat are the regions going to the polls in the first phase while 93 seats in north and central parts of the state will have polls on December 5.

The BJP won assembly polls in Gujarat for six consecutive times since 1995 and is pulling out all the stops to keep its winning streak uninterrupted in the traditionally bipolar poll involving the Congress, spiced up this time by the entry of the AAP.

(with inputs from PTI)

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