With the Himachal Pradesh state Assembly Elections now out of the way the country is eager to know the mandate of the people of Gujarat. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has always considered Gujarat its home state. For about 22 years now, the party has been at the helm of the state government. Prime Minister Narendra Modi won the 2014 Lok Sabha elections on the basis of his success in the state and by highlighting the stellar growth and development of Gujarat under his leadership. Gujarat Vidhan Sabha polls are being called a dress rehearsal for the Lok Sabha election of 2019. It comes as no surprise that the BJP is trying its very best to rout out all opposition that could stand in the way of its political ambitions.
The Gujarat State Assembly elections will be held in two phases on 9 and 14 December this year.
Target 150 Seats
In the 2012 state elections, the Bharatiya Janata Party won about 64.28 percent of the 182 seats. News reports claim that the party president and chief strategist Amit Shah has set a target of 150 for the BJP this year. Realistically speaking this looks like an impossible target. Political strategists claim that the party may lose between 6 and 7 percent votes particularly in rural Gujarat. The Indian National Congress’ recent victories in the panchayat elections of Gujarat also confirm that the saffron party’s once strong sway over the people of the state may be weakening. An unequivocal victory in the state is very important for the Bharatiya Janata Party to strengthen its position in the Rajya Sabha and to consolidate its victory in states like Uttar Pradesh.
Grass Roots Campaign
BJP leader Amit Shah has designed a strategy that will take the state assembly elections campaign of Gujarat to the grass roots level. The ‘Gujarat Gaurav Maha-Sampark Abhiyan’ is the party’s attempt to reach out to each of the 43.3 million voters in the state who are registered under 50,000 booths.
A few months ago the party had announced that “page pramukhs” would be appointed by the party. Each page pramukh is a party worker who will be responsible for reaching out to 20 to 30 voters – all the voters mentioned in one single page of the voter list. The page pramukh will be responsible for the dissemination of party information to these voters and will also need to address their concerns.
Earlier this month, Amit Shah also launched a door-to-door campaign from Naranpura constituency. Incumbent Chief Minister Vijay Rupani joined the campaign from Gandhigram (Rajkot), former chief minister Anandiben Patel joined in from Gathlodia (Ahmedabad), and other BJP leaders from their respective home constituencies. Shah himself visited some 10 residential apartments and urged party workers to complete the work across the state. Shah, Rupani, and the other party workers also distributed a letter from Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressing the voters, as they went from door-to-door asking people to vote for their party.
It is clear that the BJP and its leaders are leaving no stone unturned to solidify its hold over the state of Gujarat.
With prominent local leaders such as Shankarsinh Vaghela, Rakesh Maheria, and Alpesh Thakore deciding to move out of the party, the BJP will indeed find it tough to beat the opposition with the numbers that it dreams of achieving. Congress icon Rahul Gandhi has been spending a lot of time in Gujarat. The Congress strategy rests on wooing the rural vote bank and fueling resentment against the BJP among the Dalit and OBC voters of Gujarat. AAP’s entry into the state’s political scenario may not be a major threat but is certain to weaken BJP’s support.
BJP Faces Major Challenges
Despite claims of being able to achieve over 150 seats, the BJP will find convincing the voters in the state an uphill task. The state’s traders and businessmen are still reeling under the effects of BJP is demonetisation drive. The unsatisfactory handling of the Patidar agitation has also alienated an important vote bank. BJP’s increasingly anti-Dalit image is also another hurdle that the party will have to overcome. The only saving grace maybe the fact that the people of Gujarat are likely to prefer the BJP which has brought much development and prosperity to the state to the Congress Which one is last Legislative Assembly polls in the state in the year 1990.We must admit that neither Congress nor the AAP have been able to put forward a convincing chief ministerial candidate.
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