The biggest political battle of the year is near at hand. Gujarat has turned into a battleground with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the Indian National Congress (INC), and the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) emerging as the main parties contesting the Gujarat legislative assembly elections to be held on 9 and 14 December. A clear victory in the state polls is very important for BJP which has held on to the state government for about 22 years now. INC is also focusing on the state elections since eroding BJP’s strength in Gujarat will be a clear indication of the people’s failing trust in the BJP and its policies – something that will come in very handy as the country gears up for the Lok Sabha elections of 2019. AAP is a new entrant and is trying hard to find a foothold in this western state.
BJP president and chief election strategist of the party, Amit Shah declared that the party has set itself a target of gaining 150 of the 182 legislating assembly seats that are up for grabs. If this target is achieved, it shall be regarded as an unprecedented feat for the party. In 2012, Narendra Modi led BJP managed to muster 116 seats, in 2007 the party bagged 117 seats, and in 2002 it succeeded in gaining 127 seats. In 1998 and 1995 elections BJP mustered 117 and 121 seats respectively. The target set by Shah for the BJP though ambitions seems rather incredulous since local leaders are not expected to achieve 150 seats, something that the party could not manage even with a charismatic and forceful chief ministerial candidate such as Modi at the helm.
CM Rupani Confident of Achieving Mission 150
BJP leaders in the state are upbeat and very confident of achieving this 150 seat target that party president Amit Shah has set for them in the upcoming state legislative assembly elections. BJP leader and Chief Minister of Gujarat, (since 7 August 2016) has made a statement to the press saying that he is quite certain that the people of Gujarat will unequivocally back the party and its policies now that the son of the soil, Narendra Modi, is at the helm of the union government. Referring to the outcome of the 2012 Gujarat legislative assembly elections, he said that Narendra Modi and his progressive policies could beat any anti-incumbency tendencies to gain 116 seats. Now with NaMo occupying in the PMO, the voters of Gujarat will only shower more love, more support on the party. He added that the party was headed towards its biggest victory ever in the state.
Opposition In Combat Boots
The Congress party seems to have been making an extra effort to woo the people of Gujarat with the intention of proving that the BJP’s much touted Gujarat model of development is without foundation. Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi has been very actively campaigning in the state. The party has been keen on wooing the Patels and Dalits in the state who remain unsatisfied by the government’s resolution of their demands.
The Congress has also promised to reserve 5 seats for the newly launched party of Chhotubhai Vasava. Members of Vasava’s new party are expected to contest from 5 constituencies – Dediapada, Jhagadia, Mangrol, Morva Hadaf, and Vaghodia.
The upcoming Gujarat legislative assembly election has been witness to a fair share of drama. Disgruntled Patidar agitation leader Hardik Patel has committed to campaign against CM Rupani. Some senior local BJP leaders such as Rakesh Maheria and Alpesh Thakore have deflected and joined hands with the AAP and the INC just ahead of the elections. The Congress on the other hand blames the BJP for the spread of fake news about the resignation of Gujarat Congress head, Bharatsinh Solanki.
The Ultimate Verdict
Will the BJP be successful in achieving its very ambitious target of 150 Vidhan Sabha seats in the upcoming polls in Gujarat? Or will the INC manage to dent the BJP’s dream and prove that the BJP’s claims of development and prosperity are rather hollow? Will the AAP manage to carve out a small but significant position in the west of India? The answers to these questions remain only with the 43.3 million voters who are getting ready to exercise their democratic right this December. Whatever the news reports, political analysts, and election watchers say, we have to trust the outcome of the democratic system followed in our country.
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