By: Santosh Pathak
Buoyed by the sweeping electoral success in Punjab and the government formation thereafter in Delhi, the AAP has now shifted its focus to Gujarat polls where Assembly elections are scheduled to be held by the end of this year.
Delhi Chief Minister and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) national convenor, Arvind Kejriwal, along with Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann, has been continuously touring the state and making election promises based on the Delhi model.
Kejriwal recently made his intentions clear by appointing his close aide and Rajya Sabha MP Raghav Chadha as the co-in-charge of Gujarat.
The Bharatiya Janata Party, which has been winning consecutive elections in Gujarat since 1995, has also started its poll preparations. Gujarat, the home state of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah, is considered to be the stronghold of the BJP, and that is why it doesn't want to make any mistake concerning the state at any level.
Speaking to IANS, a BJP leader claimed that the people of Gujarat are not going to be taken in by Kejriwal's bluff and the Aam Aadmi Party is going to face the same fate in Gujarat polls as it did in the Uttarakhand and Goa assembly elections.
Claiming that the Congress is weak, another BJP leader said Kejriwal is not a challenge to the BJP but has become a big threat to the Congress. The BJP believes that once again it is going to form the government in Gujarat with a huge majority, but taking advantage of the weakness of the Congress, the Aam Aadmi Party can enter Gujarat.
Though the BJP started targeting Arvind Kejriwal over the Delhi liquor scam long before the Gujarat Assembly elections were announced, in recent days the BJP has intensified its attack. Kejriwal is a product of the anti-corruption Anna Hazare movement, which has also been famous for RTI.
Kejriwal, who calls himself a devotee of Lord Hanuman, is now trying to build his image as a Hindu leader in Gujarat by talking about Lord Shri Krishna. He is also making many promises including free electricity on the Delhi pattern.
The BJP has also intensified its attack on Kejriwal. On Friday, Union Minister Smriti Irani directly blamed Kejriwal for the alleged derogatory remarks made by the Aam Aadmi Party's Gujarat state president Gopal Italia against Prime Minister Modi and his mother. On Thursday, sharing a video of Kejriwal, BJP IT cell head Amit Malviya accused him of insulting Sardar Patel.
After the video of Rajendra Pal Gautam went viral, the BJP demanded an apology from Kejriwal, accusing him of hurting the sentiments of Hindus. Citing a letter written by Central Information Commissioner Uday Mahurkar to Delhi Lieutenant Governor VK Saxena, and describing Arvind Kejriwal as the kingpin of the corrupt ministers of the Delhi government, the BJP has also alleged that the Delhi ministers are indulging in corruption at his behest.
While the BJP is directly blaming Arvind Kejriwal for corruption in many important departments of the Delhi government and the liquor, education, and transport scams, it is also trying to expose Kejriwal's claim of free electricity by accusing him of an electricity scam.
In the five consecutive assembly elections in Gujarat in 1995, 1998, 2002, 2007, and 2012, the BJP has been forming the government by winning between 115 to 127 seats out of the total 182 assembly seats in the state. But in the 2017 Assembly elections held after Modi became Prime Minister in 2014, although the BJP had succeeded in forming the government, its number of seats had dipped to less than 100.
In 2017 Gujarat polls, the BJP won 99 seats by getting about 49 percent votes, while the Congress got 77 seats with the help of 41.4 percent votes. Perhaps this is the reason why the BJP is not ready to take any risk this time and is preparing vigorously for the Gujarat polls.
Banking on the popularity of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the BJP this time has set a target of winning more than 150 seats to form the government. The target is big, so election preparations are being done on a large scale. This is the reason why Modi himself has taken the lead in the Gujarat elections.
On the one hand, while Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Home Minister Amit Shah, and BJP president J.P. Nadda are constantly visiting the state and holding rallies and roadshows, on the other hand, the Chief Minister is meeting the state party president, core group leaders, and workers to prepare for upcoming Gujarat polls.
On Friday too, Modi held a marathon meeting with Amit Shah, Gujarat Chief Minister Bhupendra Patel and Gujarat BJP president C.R. Patil at his residence till late at night and discussed the election strategy in detail. (KB/IANS)