The Congress put out a strong message to the BJP-led NDA by holding its Congress Working Committee (CWC) meeting in Gujarat today. According to The Hindu, holding the meet at the Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Memorial Centre in Ahmedabad was crucial for the Congress to rub home the point that the party was ready to take on the BJP.
Leading from the front, both Rahul and Priyanka attacked the BJP during their rally in Gandhinagar today with strong speeches centered on the Gandhi vs. Godse theme.
Hardik Patel is Congress’s card in Gujarat
It’s been a long journey for Hardik Patel – the young Patidar leader from Saurashtra who launched the Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS) in 2016 to fight for quota for his community. In today’s rally in Ahmedabad, the Congress party announced Hardik Patel’s membership and in doing so, has raised the stakes for Gujarat.
NDTV quotes Hardik Patel in today’s rally where he compared his entry to the Congress with Mahatma Gandhi’s launch of the Dandi March to remove the British Raj. Hardik is a popular leader, especially among the youth in Saurashtra and brings along crucial farmer votes – a significant share of which bore the demonetization brunt.
BJP, which won all 26 Lok Sabha seats in 2014, will have to contend with an aggressive Hardik Patel in 2019, who is looking to cement his place in state politics.
Mayawati and Congress to fight independently
As per Times of India, Mayawati has decided not to fight the elections in alliance with the Congress in any state. BJP has been watching developments keenly as BSP indulged in parleys with the Congress over seats. Today’s announcement will mean BJP has a better chance to grab fence-sitting voters from both parties.
It’s a tough call for Mayawati who has remained sidelined after BJP’s strong performance in U.P. She has placed her bets on support from Akhilesh Yadav’s Samajwadi party for a revival. Akhilesh himself is trying to find its feet after he split from his father and uncle. The Congress, meanwhile, has little choice but fight it alone to stay relevant in the state.
BJP continues to rattle Mamata with defections
Mamata Banerjee-led TMC in West Bengal today announced its list of candidates for all 42 seats, 41% of which are female candidates. It’s perhaps the highest percentage of female candidates in any state. Mamata Banerjee is betting big on capturing the female voter support as she prepares to take on an aggressive BJP.
Both the TMC and the Congress face predatory challenges from the BJP which is leaving no stone unturned in attracting rival political leaders to jump ship.
According to the Times of India, sidelined TMC leaders in Bengal are sulking, and some may join the BJP. Bishnupur MP Soumitra Khan has already joined the BJP upsetting TMC’s local political cart. Expelled ex-TMC MP from Bolpur, Anupam Hazra, has joined the BJP today and more are expected to make the switch. Mamata, however, remains confident and defiant in stopping BJP’s inroads into the state.