North Gujarat Emerges As A Challenge for Congress In Upcoming Polls

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North Gujarat Emerges As A Challenge for Congress In Upcoming Polls

| Updated: May 31, 2022 16:49

North Gujarat, the hub of the Patidar agitation, and one of the prized regions of the Congress party, poses a new challenge for the opposition.

With Hardik Patel, who had led the Patel agitation, set to join the BJP, while former Congress chief whip Ashwin Kotwal and OBC leader Alpesh Thakor have already joined the ruling party and former Congress legislator Anil Joshiyara having passed away, every seat promises to be an uphill task. And Joshiyara’s son Kewal has joined the BJP.  

Even as the party bagged 18 out of 32 seats, including that of Independent candidate Jignesh Mevani from Vadgam, in the region in the 2017 elections riding piggyback on the campaign of Hardik Patel, Alpesh Thakor and Jignesh Mevani, the scenario looks quite different today. The rest of the seats went into BJP’s kitty.

With Alpesh Thakor already in the BJP and Hardik Patel set to join the saffron party, the Congress faces an uphill task though present GPCC president Jagdish Thakor is a strong OBC leader who hails from North Gujarat.    

Vibes of India spoke to District Congress Committee presidents of Gandhinagar, Banaskantha, Sabarkantha, Aravalli, Mehsana, and Patan in North Gujarat who claimed that there are several campaign issues to target the ruling BJP and expressed confidence of a better performance during the December elections.

The State Congress leadership has asked them to identify local issues and prepare a regional campaign plan. The Congress party will highlight the “lack of citizen-friendly administration, price fluctuations in farm products, water scarcity, increasing socio-economic backwardness of the Dalit, and Adivasi communities and communal challenges posed by the right-wing forces.”

“Direction was given to all district Presidents and Vice-Presidents to re-connect with the grassroots level party workers and people”, State Congress President Jagdish Thakor told VOI.


The Gandhinagar district has five assembly seats, three of which were bagged by the Congress and two by BJP.

Gandhinagar district President Aravindsinh Solanki told VO!, “BJP boasts about development, but look at Gandhinagar, only 20% of planned commercial areas are developed. Also, there are departments which control Gandhinagar, including the Capital Project Division (CPD), Municipal Corporation (GMC) and Notified Area Committee (GNAC).

These three bodies are always in administrative conflict, which in turn affects the people seeking the government service”.

Solanki added that Congress had identified this as the key issue and it would also be included in the party’s manifesto. The solution lies with Congress forming the government.  

Though Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) ate into the Congress votes in the Gandhinagar Municipal Corporation elections in 2021, he claims AAP doesn’t have any significance in this region.

It was for the first time that the BJP registered a landslide victory bagging 41 out of 44 seats in GMC and snatched power from the Congress, which could manage only two seats. The AAP took only one seat but it successfully split the Congress votes.


In 2017, the Congress bagged six out of nine seats in Banaskantha district, while Independent MLA Jignesh Mevani won from Vadgam with Congress support. BJP could get only two.

The Opposition party plans to attack the ruling BJP on contract farming.

“In Banaskantha, contract farming is facing constant challenges due to fluctuation of prices. Especially in the Iqbalgadh village where potatoes are cultivated. This year, the farmers could not make good profits because companies did not pay for higher input costs. Prices were between Rs 180 per 20 kg this year under contract farming. Production was very minimal due to the temperature rise too”, District President Bharatsinh Vaghela told VO!.

Vaghela also added that groundwater level is falling in about 50 villages, including Malana village of Palanpur taluka. Due to this, there is a huge problem with irrigation and drinking water. “For the last 30 years, there has been a demand for filling water in the lake of Malana village to solve the water problem. BJP is ignoring the basic needs of the people,” he said.

“Congress workers stand with the people and address their issues. AAP and BJP can never do it, as they are corporate parties,” Vaghela added. However, he said the Congress needed to consolidate the urban working-class voters in North Gujarat to win the elections.


Sabarkantha district is the toughest for the Congress in North Gujarat. Ashwin Kotwal was the only winner from the party and he too has joined the BJP. Out of the three seats here, BJP won two.

Sabarkantha district president Kamlesh J Patel told VO! that the tribal stretch of Gujarat begins with Sabarkantha district although it is a general seat. The urban population is around 10% here. The Scheduled Tribe and Scheduled Caste population constitute the majority here.

“The major issues are with the tribal migrant population, the recent Himmatnagar communal clashes and the overall socio-economic backwardness in this region,” Patel added.

He said right-wing forces like VHP and Bajrang Dal are active here wooing the tribal and SC communities and that this is a challenge.


The Congress claims that this is safest district, where all three seats were won by the party.

Kamlendrasinh Purvar, the Aravalli district president said, “We are in live contact with the people and booth level workers. There is no challenge to Congress here from BJP and AAP”.
However, Asaduddin Owaisi’s AIMIM, which won nine seats in the Modasa municipality in the Aravalli district, is a huge challenge for the party. While AIMIM may not win any seat in the district, it would prove a spolier for the Congress.


With only one seat out of seven, Mehsana remains an Achilles Heel for the Congress.
Mehsana Congress district president Manish Thakor said, “In Mehsana AAP is not a big challenge but the BJP is, and we have to fight on the perception front that only Congress could defeat BJP.”

He said the party would raise water scarcity as a key campaign issue here. “People are battling water emergencies. From kids to adults, everyone waits for hours to fetch water. And now, “the people of Mehsana have decided to boycott the elections.”

“We are meeting the families personally and telling them to vote against the BJP is the best way to protest. We tell them that if the Congress forms the government, we will solve the water crisis,” he added.


The Congress could manage only one from the four seats in this district in 2017.

Shankarji D Thakor, the Patan district president, said social-economic backwardness is a major issue here and the BJP has failed the people’s aspirations.

“Congress workers are active now, we are holding taluka level meetings to form a concrete campaign strategy. Jagdishji and Raghu Sharmaji guided us to create an action plan,” he added.

Thakor and other senior state, district and taluka-level leaders from north Gujarat recently gathered in Mehsana to chalk out a strategy. The Congress has set an ambitious target of winning 125 seats in the 182-member Assembly.

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