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HindustanTimes Wed,30 Jul 2014

Kejriwal’s Gujarat trip to have long-term effects

Brajesh Kumar, Hindustan Times  Ahmedabad, March 09, 2014
First Published: 00:46 IST(9/3/2014) | Last Updated: 17:46 IST(9/3/2014)

AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal’s Gujarat ‘study tour’ — aimed actually at verifying chief minister Narendra Modi’s development claims — may have ended in a whimper, but analysts say he managed to show that Modi can be challenged in his own den.

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While opinions varied on whether Kejriwal’s “stunt”—going to meet Modi at his residence on Friday with TV cameras in tow without an appointment — will win the party some seats in the state, they all agreed the AAP in the long run will make a dent into the Congress’ space here.

Meanwhile, concluding his Gujarat visit Kejriwal on Saturday called Modi a “property dealer for the Tatas, Ambanis and Adanis ... Modi he has ceased to be a CM.”
The former Delhi CM told a rally in Bapunagar area, a saffron bastion in Ahmedabad: “After the Kutch earthquake, Vajpayee built a hospital in Bhuj from his PM relief fund. Modi has handed over the hospital to the Adanis, who is now not treating poor patients.”

Before Kejriwal’s speech, there was mild baton charge by the police when some unidentified persons tried to burn his effigy. There was an incident of stone pelting also during Kejriwal’s speech.

“In his Kanpur rally, Kejriwal challenged Modi to fight against him in Varanasi, and now he entered Modi’s lair and put across the challenge at his door step,” Prakash Shah, an Ahmadabad-based civil society activist and political analyst told HT. “It’s a psychological victory for Kejriwal.”

According to Vidyut Joshi, former vice-chancellor, Bhavnagar University, Kejriwal was successful in laying the foundation of “alternative politics” which the Congress had failed to do. “He tried to bring out the contradictions in the state,” he said.

Gujarat, which has always been a two-party state with 26 seats, saw BJP win 14 seats in 2004 and the Congress 12. In 2009, the BJP increased its tally to 15 against 11 for the Congress.

The BJP won the highest number of seats in the state under former CM Keshubhai Patel in 1999 with a tally of 20 seats. Since then under Narendra Modi, the BJP has not been able to match the 1999 tally.

But this time, with Modi aiming for the country’s top job, the BJP is hoping to go for the kill and win more than 20 seats. “It’ll be foolish to assume that the AAP will make a debut here ... It’ll not happen immediately,” Joshi said.

Indu Kumar Jain, another social activist, however, differed with Joshi. He believes that the AAP could corner five to six seats in Gujarat.


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