Despite the top BJP leadership repeatedly denying that there was no question of recommending an early election in Gujarat, a high-level meeting at Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s official residence on Saturday has sparked off yet another round of speculations that there might be early polls in the State.
The three-hour meeting was attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union Home Minister Amit Shah, Gujarat Chief Minister Bhupendra Patel, State BJP President CR Paatil, Gujarat Law Minister Rajendra Trivedi and K Kailashnathan, the Chief Principal Secretary to the Gujarat CM.
Party sources have claimed that the meeting decided to dissolve the Gujarat Assembly on May 5 to ensure minimum time for the opposition parties to prepare for the contest. Technically, the Election Commission must give a 45-day time after issuance of the election notification.
A source said, “This means the elections have to be wound up before the end of June. As of now, the BJP might not run the risk since June would be a peak farming season, high temperatures this year also pose the possibility of low turnout of voters.”
“And most importantly, many districts in the Saurashtra, Kutch and North Gujarat region are already facing severe water deficit. Add the fact that a bad farm season and poor monsoons don’t bode well for a ruling party. Even if the monsoons are good, elections are generally not held at that time,” he claims.
Speculations of an early election have started ever since the BJP won the Uttar Pradesh elections. Then, three back-to-back visits of the Prime Minister, Amit Shah and national BJP President JP Nadda and possible visits of union ministers Bhupendra Yadav, Smriti Irani and Anurag Thakur are fuelling rumours of an early election.
Simultaneously, the Gujarat Government last week appointed P Bharti as the new Chief Electoral Officer of the State. Earlier, a large number of police officers, including IPS officials, were transferred. This is besides the State Government succumbing to several agitations, including of Adivasis, government teachers, government doctors, farmers and even police constabulary to cool off tempers.
The latest addition to the speculations is a tweet by AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal on Saturday that the BJP might go for early elections “since it is scared of the growing popularity of the AAP in Gujarat.”