The poll bugle to secure the home turf of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s state of Gujarat has been sounded with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) undertaking a two-day strategy and organisation meet, Chintan Shivir, in Ahmedabad from Sunday.
Union Home Minister Amit Shah, Gujarat in-charge and senior leader Bhupendra Yadav and Chief Minister Bhupender Patel are strategising with the state leadership in Ahmedabad, sources said.
On agenda at the Chintan Shivir will be finalising the party’s strategy to seek re-election for the sixth consecutive time. Winning in Gujarat is considered a battle of prestige, it being the home state of PM Modi and Union Minister Shah.
At the meet, the BJP is likely to take a decision on the entry of rebels from the Congress into its fold ahead of the Assembly polls.
The party will decide on fielding recently joined leaders’ winnability as the criteria for selection of candidates for the forthcoming Assembly polls, sources said.
The meet will see discussions on countering the anti-incumbency of five consecutive terms and issues such as inflation, unemployment and fuel price hike that are being raked up by the Opposition.
Gujarat is slated to go to polls by the end of this year for 182 Assembly seats.
In 2017, the BJP had won in 99 constituencies.
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CONGRESS WITHOUT AHMED PATEL, DISSENT SURFACES
The Congress will try to fill the void created by the demise of its tallest leader and top strategist from Gujarat, Ahmed Patel. This would be the first Assembly polls in the state without Patel.
The void is already being felt as the party faces desertions by its leaders.
Even Ahmed Patel’s son, Faisal, had last month, in a cryptic tweet, said: “Tired of waiting around. No encouragement from the top brass. Keeping my options open.”
Murmurs of Gujarat Congress chief Hardik Patel also being unhappy with the party’s central leadership have surfaced repeatedly.
Congress MLA Ashwin Kotwal, former MLA Manibhai Vaghela and senior leaders namely Pravin Maru and Vasant Bhatol have already left the party for the BJP.
AAP TRYING TO WOO TRADITIONAL CONG VOTER
Gujarat has, for decades, been a state with a direct contest between the BJP and the Congress. However, this Assembly poll would be different as the AAP tries to woo the Congress votebank.
The AAP is projecting itself and trying hard to emerge as an alternative to the Congress.
As part of these plans, the AAP’s 20-day ‘Parivartan Yatra’ in Gujarat began on Sunday.
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The AAP’s attempts at gaining ground in Gujarat can be established by the fact that its national convener and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has visited the state at least five times in the past few months.
With an eye on tribal seats, the AAP has also tied up with the Bhartiya Tribal Party. Kejriwal also addressed Adivasi Sankalp Mahasammelan in Bharuch on May 1. It was also attended by BTP chief Chhotubhai Vasava, reports stated.
The Patidar community has been one of the most important in the Gujarat Assembly polls. The fact is well elicited as the BJP’s incumbent chief minister and the Congress state unit chief both hail from the community.
An influential leader from the Patidar community, Naresh Patel, is being wooed by the BJP, Congress and AAP as they vie for the community’s vote.
Ahead of the last Assembly polls, Gujarat had seen widespread protests by the community seeking reservation and other benefits for Patidars.
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Patidars account for around 12% of the state’s population of around 6 crore. The community also holds sway over 60 Assembly seats and can influence the poll results.
OWAISI ENTERS THE FRAY
All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen chief Asaduddin Owaisi has also entered the Gujarat poll battle. The AIMIM leader is scheduled to address a rally in Vadgam, Gujarat on Sunday.
With the Congress house in disarray, the party aims to target and attract the Muslim voters of the state and create a space for itself.
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