Ahmedabad: With the stage all set for Gujarat Assembly Elections 2012, overall picture indicates it's an easy win for most of the veterans.
In most of the seats, it will be a cakewalk for heavyweights. Only constituencies like Surat (East), Sidhpur and Bhavnagar (rural) where the BJP has pitted controversial party leader and minister Purshottam Solanki against Leader of the Opposition Shaktisinh Gohil will witness the clash of Titans.
So before the curtains are removed for this highstakes political semi-final before the Lok Sabha polls in 2014, here's a look at 'star constituencies' of Gujarat:
Chief Minister Narendra Modi will take on suspended IPS officer Sanjiv Bhatt's wife Shweta in Maninagar constituency. The war of attrition between Modi and Bhatt has now shifted to the electoral arena with the Congress fielding Shweta against the Chief Minister.
Sanjeev had taken on Modi, accusing him of complicity in the post-Godhra riots in 2002.
Modi had won the seat -- which falls in Ahmedabad city -- by a massive margin of 75,000 votes in the 2007 elections, defeating Dinsha Patel of the Congress.
Former Gujarat chief minister and founder president of the Gujarat Parivartan Party (GPP) Keshubhai Patel will contest from Visavadar town of Junagadh district.
Visavadar town has become an epicentre of Saurashtra region to bring about a change in the political atmosphere of the state. Patel had contested the state polls from Visavadar in the past and become the chief minister.
Traditionally, the seat has been with the BJP. 83-year-old Patel, who had worked with BJP for decades, had quit the party to form his own in August.
The Congress is out of contest for the Visavadar seat even before polling. After scrutiny of nomination papers on Monday, the Election Commission rejected the candidature of Ratilal Mangrolia of the Congress for not providing the party ‘mandate’ in time.
The BJP has pitted controversial party leader and minister Purshottam Solanki against Leader of the Opposition Shaktisinh Gohil from the Bhavnagar rural constituency.
Shaktisinh Harishchandrasinh Gohil is the leader of opposition in the Gujarat Legislative Assembly. Bhavnagar Lok Sabha constituency comprises seven assembly segments: Talaja, Palitana, Bhavnagar (rural), Bhavnagar (East), Bhavnagar (West), Gadhada and Botad.
In the western part of Ahmedabad, high-profile revenue minister and in charge of Ahmedabad district, Anandiben Patel will face Rameshbhai Dudhwala of the Congress in the Ghatlodia constituency in Ahmedabad.
The three-time MLA, Patel has changed her constituency as many times. In 1998 she contested and won the poll-battle from Mandal, but later shifted to Patan in 2002 and 2007. In 2012, she will try her luck from the Patel dominated constituency, Ghatlodia. According to party sources, fearing anti incumbency against herself in Patan, Patel had lobbied hard for Ghatlodia for the last three years.
She had become active in city politics and took special care that her close councillors got key positions in Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation. She was geared in the poll-mode for the last six months.
Patel, 70, is a powerful leader and has been conducting meetings of even those departments which are not under her. She is also supervising progress of the Narmada dam project, which will be a significant poll issue. As a former school principal, she knows all about imparting tough lessons.
Amit Shah, a former minister in Narendra Modi's Gujarat cabinet and a powerful BJP leader will contest next month's assembly elections from Naranpura in Ahmedabad. Shah is one of the accused in the Sohrabuddin Sheikh and Tulsi Prajapati alleged fake encounter cases and is out on bail.
Shah had won the last assembly elections from Sarkhej with a vote margin even bigger than Modi's. Sarkhej has, after delimitation, been split into three constituencies, one of which is Naranpura. He is known to be close to Modi and held many portfolios in his cabinet before he was arrested in the Sohrabuddin case in July 2010.
The Congress had fielded Dr Jitubhai Patel from the seat. Patel, a former BJP MLA, has recently shaken hands with the Congress.
Minister of state for energy, petrochemicals, industry and finance Saurabh Patel has chosen to fight the battle of 2012 from Akota in Vadodara and not Botad, his native constituency in Bhavnagar district. Patel had won elections comfortably from Botad since 1998. However, his rise in popularity met with an adverse reaction in Botad, so much so that Patel, one of the Modi's three stalwarts, feared anti incumbency in the area after change in caste equations due to delimitation order. Number of Koli voters increased substantially in Botad. Despite biggest Koli leader Parshottam Solanki in party’s fold, Patel was afraid because of his perceived to-be not-so-cordial relations with the former fisheries minister. Another important factor for his change in constituency could be Congress’s decision to field Kuvarji Bavaliya, a Koli leader and a sitting member of parliament from Rajkot, as candidate from Botad.
Sitting MLA and minister Ranjit Gilitwala will face an acid test, with the Congress going for a high- profile minority candidate like Kadir Pirzada.
A high voltage fight is on the cards in seats like Surat North, Surat East and Varachha.
As BJP's candidate is former mayor Ajay Choksi for Surat North and GPP has fielded its general secretary and former mayor Fakir Chauhan a contest is brewing between one-time colleagues and two former mayors.
Health minister Jay Narayan Vyas, who is an MLA from Sidhpur assembly seat, is facing Balwant Singh Rajput of the Congress. In 2007, the BJP was trailing by 11,391 votes in Sidhpur. Rajput had recently hogged headlines after declaring his assets to be worth Rs 270 crore.
(With DNA, PTI inputs)