Gujarat election 2017 dates declared: 5 controversies around the high-stakes vote
The run-up to the Gujarat polls has been marked by controversies, defections and barbs.GujaratElection2017 Updated: Oct 25, 2017 16:52 IST
The Election Commission on Wednesday announcedDecember 9 and 14 as polling dates for the Gujarat state assembly elections. The results will be out on December 18, after polling is held in 89 seats across 19 districts under the first phase and 93 seats in 14 districts in the next round. (Live update highlights)
Both the BJP and Congress have been running a high-octane election campaign in the state, holding rallies and yatras to woo voters. But as the contest becomes heated, the run-up to the polls has been marked by controversies, defections and sharp jibes.
Here is a round-up of all the controversies as Gujarat heads for polls:
Election Commission ‘delaying poll announcement for BJP’
When the Gujarat election dates were not announced along with Himachal Pradesh, Congress targeted the Election Commission, alleging that the body was deliberately “delaying” the announcement to allow more time to the ruling BJP government to offer sops to voters before the model code of conduct kicked in. Prime Minister Narendra Modi responded to the allegations by saying that the Congress had no right to question the constitutional body.
Chief election commissioner AK Joti defended the decision to announce Gujarat’s dates later, saying that factors such as snowfall in Himachal Pradesh, flood relief efforts in Gujarat and festivities played a role in the decision.
Hardik Patel accuses BJP of ‘spying’
Patidar quota agitation leader Hardik Patel accused the BJP of spying on himafter CCTV camera clips from a luxury hotel in Ahmedabad were flashed on local television news channels amid speculations that he secretly met Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi.
The 24-year-old tweeted in Hindi that people in the BJP are “expert in spying” and gave the examples of Sanjay Joshi, a senior leader who resigned from a party post in 2005 after being named in a sex CD controversy.
Defection season, as OBC leader Alpesh to join Congress, two Hardik aides embrace BJP
Gujarat OBC leader Alpesh Thakor on Saturday announced he was joining the Congress, as Rahul Gandhi attended his rally in Gandhinagar. The Congress has been aggressively courting Patidar agitation leader Hardik Patel and Dalit leader Jignesh Mewani to join the party.
The ruling BJP got a boost as two leaders from Patel’s Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS) shook hands with the party.
Patidar leader alleges BJP offered him Rs 1-crore bribe
A leader of the influential Patidar community in Gujarat carried wads of currency notes to a press conference, saying the ruling BJP offered him Rs 1 crore to join the party.
Narendra Patel spoke to the press within hours of “joining” the BJP, which denied the allegations. Despite the statement, another Patidar leader, Nikhil Sawani, on Monday morning said he was leaving the BJP, “upset over the Rs 1 crore offered to Patel”.
The Patidar community, once a staunch supporter, is at war with the BJP over its demand for reservation in education and government jobs.
Gloves off, as leaders trade jibes and barbs
In the run-up to the Gujarat election, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi stepped up his poll pitch, using his rallies and social media to direct barbs at the government. Ahead of PM Modi’s visit to his home state last week, Gandhi issued a “weather report”, saying election rhetoric will rain down on Gujarat as projects worth Rs 12,500 crores were announced for the state. “Mausam ka haal: chunav se pehle Gujarat mien aaj hogi jumlon ki baarish,” Gandhi tweeted.
In return, PM Narendra Modi mocked the Congress, calling it a ‘zamanati party’. “How can a party save Gujarat when the mother and son are on bail. I trust the people of Gujarat,” he said, while addressing a BJP workers’ rally in Gandhinagar.