Congress candidate for Gandhinagar, Gujarat, Sonal Patel, says he is “not hesitant to fight LS poll against Amit Shah.”

In the approaching election in Gujarat’s Gandhinagar Lok Sabha constituency, Sonal Patel, the Congress’s nominee against Union Home Minister Amit Shah, said she was not at all reluctant to challenge the prominent BJP politician.

The 62-year-old politician, who is also the party’s co-incharge of western Maharashtra and Mumbai, is the secretary of the All India Congress Committee (AICC) and said that anti-incumbency is prevalent because the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has not lived up to public expectations.

She also requested a “level-playing field” in the electoral process and accused the governing party of harassing Congress employees in her district.

“I had not asked for a ticket from the party as I was busy with Congress’s affairs in Maharashtra, where I am co-incharge of Mumbai and Western Maharashtra,” Patel said in an interview with PTI.However, I accepted the party’s nomination of me from Gandhinagar.”

“No one is willing to rent a space to us for hosting meetings of party workers because they are afraid that we will target them after the elections. Our workers are being intimidated.” Our municipal and district officials are being summoned to police stations by the police for some petty issues from the past. “BJP is fighting elections with administrative machinery,” she said.

Patel said, “I don’t know whether Amit Shah is aware of these techniques that BJP’s local leaders are adopting, but this indicates that they are terrified and not on a stable basis.Elections should be fought on an even playing field for everybody.”

In Gandhinagar, a BJP stronghold where former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and former deputy prime minister L K Advani had run for office, Patel, an architect by trade, said she was not afraid to challenge Shah.

“He (Shah) may be the home minister of the country, but we have seen him from the days when he was a common BJP worker,” she said.

“Amit Shah went from being a low-level laborer in Naranpura, his assembly seat when he was an MLA, to being the nation’s home minister. We have seen my father, a Congress municipal councilor from Naranpura, grow up.Like him, I too started from the bottom and worked my way up,” she said.

She remarked, “And when people cast their vote, they will not choose (their MP) thinking that he is the home minister or that I am a simple party worker,” and that is precisely why she did not think twice about running against Shah.

In order to challenge the BJP’s heavyweights from the Gandhinagar seat, the Congress has previously nominated major names like actor Rajesh Khanna and former election commissioner T N Seshan.

She gave the following explanation for the Congress’s decision to not field a heavyweight candidate from outside to challenge Shah: “There are two issues with calling heavyweight candidates from outside: first, they need to be hand-held because they do not know the area, and second, when they leave after losing, a void is created. Therefore, it is preferable to choose a local candidate.

Following the announcement of her name, Patel started her campaign by planning voter gatherings and touring the district.

“Our campaigning is going on and it will pick up pace,” she said.

A video that went viral showed her being prevented from campaigning in Gandhinagar’s Pethapur hamlet because of the current issue surrounding Union minister Parshottam Rupala, the BJP’s candidate for Rajkot, and his statements criticizing the Rajput or Kshatriya clan.

“We have criticized Rupala’s remarks against the Kshatriya community and are in no way associated with the controversy, but we were denied entry into Pethapur village.” After the event was captured on camera and went viral, we discovered that the people who had stopped us were BJP employees. They did not let us to campaign in the same areas where the Kshatriya group predominates, she claimed.

Regarding the primary concerns facing the constituency, she said that anti-incumbency sentiment is prevalent since the BJP has not met the expectations of the state’s citizens.

Although infrastructure has been constructed, the affluent are becoming wealthier and the poor are getting poorer. In communities, there are no jobs available, and farmers are owning less land as it is passed down through the generations. A peasant experiences severe inflation when he relocates to a metropolis. She remarked, “BJP has no solution to these issues.”

“BJP’s claim of winning over 400 seats is nothing but rhetoric and I am sure that it will not be able to win all 26 Lok Sabha seats in Gujarat this time,” she said.

The BJP held all 26 seats in the state in both 2014 and 2019.

Patel is an urban and regional planner who attended the Centre of Environment Planning and Technology (CEPT) University to study architecture. He is also a member of several architectural organizations.

From 2012 to 2018, she presided over the Gujarat Pradesh Mahila Congress Committee as well.

She was thereafter promoted to the position of AICC secretary.

Patel said that in order to avoid upsetting partygoers, she has chosen to submit her candidacy papers quietly and without fanfare.

“On April 16, I will only be submitting the nomination form with four or five ladies. Why cause party workers any trouble?” said she.

The Gujarat Lok Sabha elections are scheduled for May 7 in a single phase, with nominations closing on April 19.

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