Gujarat: Triangular electoral contest in the politics of the bi-polar state, entry of ‘AAP’ may spoil the equation


Ahmedabad: The electoral scenario in Gujarat has been bi-polar for a long time, but this time the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) is also trying its hand in the election campaign here. AAP here is challenging the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) as well as the opposition Congress, which may have lost ground in the state but still has an effective presence. Polling for the 182-member Gujarat Assembly will be held in two phases on December 1 and 5. The Election Commission announced the election dates on Thursday. This announcement has come at a time when a bridge accident happened in Morbi in the state a few days ago in which 135 people lost their lives. The emotional echo of this tragedy that happened on the 30th of last month can also be seen in the election.

The main electoral issue for the ruling BJP is likely to be at the center of this election, the ongoing debate between Hindutva, a ‘twin engine’ government and continuity of government, apart from freebies and welfare schemes. For the past few weeks, there has been a war of words between BJP and AAP over freebies and welfare. The dates for the elections may have been announced today, but the discussion of having a triangular election in Gujarat has been in full swing for some time now. Prime Minister Narendra Modi and many Union ministers have been visiting the state continuously for some time now. The Prime Minister himself was in Morbi on 1 November and reviewed the situation as a result of the bridge accident.

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For now, all eyes are on AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal as well as his party leaders, who have made a strong inroad into a bi-polar state for decades, offering voters a third option. This time assembly election is very important for BJP. He has ruled this state for the last 27 years, registering six consecutive electoral victories. This election is also important for AAP as it hopes that if it wins the election in this state, then its nationwide campaign will get a big boost from it. Congress has been trying to come back to power by ending its role as opposition for the last 27 years. But till now there has been no noticeable activism by the top party leaders in the state. However, government leaders certainly work at the grassroots level.

In Gujarat’s 182-member assembly, 27 seats are reserved for Scheduled Tribes and 13 for Scheduled Castes. The total number of members of BJP in the current assembly is 111 while the number of members of Congress is 62. Nationalist Congress Party has one member and two members of Indian Tribal Party in the assembly. There is also an independent MLA while five seats are currently vacant. But long before the announcement of the election, the process of leaders from various parties to reach Gujarat is underway. The parties are not only making their strategy but they have filled the towns and villages of Gujarat with advertisements, banners and posters.

Prime Minister Modi is the BJP’s star campaigner and his visits to Gujarat have also seen an increase in recent times. He has also addressed several rallies in different areas of the state. During this he also inaugurated and laid the foundation stone of various projects worth thousands of crores. During this he also addressed some rallies organized by BJP. In his speeches, he often discussed the development of Gujarat and while advocating a “twin engine” government, he asked the “Narendra-Bhupendra” couple to work even longer. The BJP calls the government a single-party “twin engine” as well as in the state at the Centre.

A large number of Union ministers participated in the Gujarat Gaurav Yatra organized by the BJP in the state. It was started by BJP President JP Nadda and Union Home Minister Amit Shah. The Aam Aadmi Party, though a late entrant in Gujarat, has grabbed everyone’s attention with its aggressive campaigns and populist messages ahead of the polls. AAP depends on delicious election messages. Knowing that she is new to state politics, she emphasizes on issues related to people’s daily lives to woo voters.

AAP convener Kejriwal is in charge of his party’s election campaign. He constantly holds rallies and holds small meetings. Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann, Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia and party leader Raghav Chadha are also pouring their strength into the election campaign. AAP had started the election campaign much earlier than BJP and Congress. Even on the issue of announcing candidates, the 10-year party left all the parties behind.

Congress seems to be calm for now and almost absent from the election campaign. Former party president Rahul Gandhi is busy with the couple’s India trip and has been absent from the Gujarat election scene so far. It is not yet clear whether he will campaign in Gujarat or not. He had last addressed a party meeting in Ahmedabad on September 5. Lok Sabha MP and All India Majlis-e-Ittehad-ul Muslimeen (AIMIM) president Asaduddin Owaisi has announced that he will field candidates in some Muslim-dominated seats.

The Congress had won the first three assembly elections in Gujarat in 1962, 1967 and 1972. In the elections contested after the imposition of the Emergency in 1975, it was defeated by a coalition of parties led by Morarji Desai, Jan Sangh and Kisan Mazdoor- the party led by rebel Congress leader Chimanbhai Patel. The Congress then won the elections in 1980 and 1985. In the 1990 elections, the Janata Dal and the BJP emerged as a strong force. The BJP has won all the elections held after 1995.

Tags: AAP, BJP, Congress, Gujarat Assembly Elections


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