Congress fields central minister against Modi


New Delhi/Ahmedabad : The Congress party, after dilly-dallying for long, Tuesday decided to nominate central minister Dinsha J. Patel to take on Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi in the Maninagar constituency in the state assembly elections next month.

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B.K. Hariprasad, All India Congress Committee (AICC) general secretary in charge of Gujarat, told IANS that Patel, minister of state for petroleum and natural gas, will contest from Maninagar in Ahmedabad city.

While the Congress had finalised the names of most of its candidates, it considered several persons for the Maninagar seat before deciding on Patel.

The Congress considered nominating a Gandhian or a woman leader against Modi. The central minister is expected to help it capture votes of the Patel community that dominates the constituency.

Patel, 70, represents Caira in the Lok Sabha and is among the top veteran leaders of the party in Gujarat.

Earlier, he was a legislator for five terms and the minister for public works department in the state during 1990-95. He entered the Lok Sabha in 1996 and has won each subsequent general election.

Modi of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) contested his first assembly election from Rajkot city in 2001 but shifted to Maninagar where he secured 73.29 percent of the votes polled in the 2002 election.

Gujarat goes to polls in two phases, Dec 11 and Dec 16, and the votes will be counted Dec 23.