The BJP calls it carpet bombing. The term got more generic on Monday with the entire State indulging in its favourite sport with their favourite players. Not Football. Politics. From Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Congress leader Rahul Gandhi and Aam Aadmi Party Supremo Arvind Kejriwal, all the three main parties and their leaders campaigned in the State seeking votes.
Gujarat goes to polls on December 1 and 5. There are 182 seats in Gujarat and the ruling BJP is aiming for a sixth consecutive term. And as of now, BJP appears to be visibly leading an interesting triangular race that the State is witnessing after decades.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi continues to remain the most sought after leader of Gujarat as the public continues to embrace him unquestioningly and unconditionally. Today, PM Modi addressed three public rallies across the State and held three closed door meetings with senior leaders to review the political situation in Gujarat. This is for the first time Gujarat is seeing a prime minister taking such a micro level interest in the State elections. In 2017 when Gujarat went to polls, PM Modi did spend a considerable time in Gujarat but this time, he has nearly tripled his visits to Gujarat.
Aam Aadmi Party(AAP) is considered one of the main reasons the BJP is taking the Assembly elections much more seriously than before. Gujarat has traditionally seen the BJP and Congress fight each other but this time AAP’s entry has changed sizable political equations. AAP is expected to hurt the BJP in urban areas and Congress in rural areas. It is expected to pinch the Congress more than the BJP. Even if AAP does not come out with flying colours when it comes to number of seats won; it definitely is steadily going towards capturing a sizable vote share which is a matter of concern both for the BJP and the Congress.
Arvind Kejriwal’s consistency in campaigning in Gujarat has rattled the ruling BJP. The BJP does not see much competition from the Congress which they find demoralised as it has not been in power on its own since 1990. Rahul Gandhi was at ease while addressing two rallies but unlike Kejriwal his connect with the masses is less. Kejriwal connect vanishes as soon as Narendrabhai as PM Modi is known in Gujarat takes over.
All Narendrabhai does is to remind Gujaratis of their intelligence, practical sense of choosing the best and warn them to not get carried away by elements who are “jealous of Gujarat’s growth and peace”. Stay wise, is the advice.
In various rallies, PM Modi attacked Congress and especially Rahul Gandhi, particularly mentioning how he was trying to “break” India by joining hands with “anti Gujarat, anti development” elements like Medha Patkar in his Bharat Jodo Yatra.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday said no one had imagined Gujarat could become the top state as it faced droughts and other issues but the people ensured the turnaround by electing BJP and rejecting false propaganda and lucrative promises. “Keep doing so. You are smart. Vote for BJP and go to your neighbours and tell them my Raam Raam (hello in colloquial Gujarati). “Our victory is already written on the wall but I am here to give you the account of what we have done in the last 27 years. You have the right to know”, he said amidst applause. Taking a jibe at the Congress he said someone from that party had questioned his aukat(status). I have no aukat. I am a small, simple man. All I am , is because of you, he said as crowds cheered him up in Surendranagar, Jambusar and Navsari where he addressed public rallies. “Gujarat was earlier known for its droughts and calamities. Now it is known for its development, progress and prosperity,” he said. “Reject false propaganda and lucrative looking promises’ ‘, he warned Gujaratis.He said Gujarat could become number one because the people of the state voted as per their wisdom and elected BJP “without falling prey to any false propaganda or lucrative promises”.
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Monday addressed two public rallies, one in Mahuva in South Gujarat and other in Rajkot in Saurashtra. At both places, he focused on how pained he was because of the situation of farmers, youth and tribals after meeting them during his Bharat Jodo Yatra and accused the BJP of drawing up plans to displace adivasis by handing over forests to industrialists.
This was Rahul’s first visit to Gujarat after the poll date announcement. Striking a chord with the adivasis , he said you are the real owners of the land. But the BJP was working towards taking away their jungles and robbing them of their self respect and livelihood.
In Rajkot, Rahul Gandhi recalled the recent Morbi Bridge collapse and questioned why it was just the chowkidars being arrested and not the owners. Is it because they share good relations with the BJP, he asked. The real culprits are not being touched and low level people are being framed as responsible for the death of 135 people, he added.
Rahul harped on unemployment in the State and recalled how Gujarat was the pivotal centre of small and medium enterprises in the country which the Narendra Modi government crushed away with demonetisation, tardy implementation of GST and by encouraging his coteries of selected industrialists. A few can walk away getting whatever they want from telecom, defence, farm, any sector they wanted even while SMEs remain on ventilators and youth remain unemployed.
Meanwhile Arvind Kejriwal invoked Gods and made it clear that “so many sins have been committed on this land that the Gods have now decided to send a broom(the AAP symbol) to wipe them off and give a clean new start to Gujarat.
Kejriwal and his party’s aggressive campaigning is now not limited to just urban areas. In fact, the party’s chief ministerial candidate is contesting from his home town of Khambhaliya in Saurashtra and Kejriwal will be visiting the coastal town tomorrow to campaign for their CM candidate Isudan Gadhvi.
“Both these parties have exploited Gujarat and now Gujarat should make a wise choice and go in for a fresh party, ” said Kejriwal, seeking votes for AAP. Kejriwal’s guarantee card has caught the fancy of Gujaratis who seem to be especially impressed with sops for education, health and women.