Gujarat polls: BJP brushes aside AAP’s claim of being its main challenger
The AAP has sought to project itself as the main challenger to the ruling BJP, which has been in power in Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union home minister Amit Shah’s home state for 27 years
Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) chief Arvind Kejriwal has held around a dozen roadshows in Gujarat’s Saurashtra and Kutch regions alone ahead of assembly polls next month and named Isudan Gadhvi the party’s chief ministerial candidate. The party claimed to have received over 1.6 million recommendations for its “choose the chief minister” campaign as it seeks to expand its influence beyond its strongholds of Punjab and Delhi.
The AAP has also sought to project itself as the main challenger to the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which has been in power in Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union home minister Amit Shah’s home state for 27 years.
But both Congress and the BJP have been dismissive of the AAP. Shah this week maintained the electoral contest was only between Congress and the BJP. He noted the BJP has not lost assembly or national elections in Gujarat since 1990.
On October 31, Rahul Gandhi also brushed aside the hype around the AAP’s prospects in Gujarat, saying it was being created on the basis of advertisements without any actual support. “The Congress is actively contesting the Gujarat elections and is bound to win. ...It [AAP] has nothing on the ground.”
The Congress registered its best electoral performance in Gujarat in decades in 2017, winning 77 of 182 seats. The BJP won 99 seats. Its tally later went up to 111 while 14 Congress lawmakers defected to the BJP.
AAP has pledged 300 units of free electricity per month, a monthly allowance of ₹1,000 to all women, and a monthly allowance of ₹3,000 to the unemployed youth if it is voted to power. Both Congress and AAP have promised to restore the old pension scheme.
Kejriwal has continued to project the election as a direct contest between the BJP and AAP. “I estimate the Congress will receive a vote share of less than 13%,” he told the media in Ahmedabad. He asked Congress supporters not to waste their votes by voting for the party.
At a roadshow after in Junagadh, Kejriwal said the voters gave the BJP 27 years to rule. “...please give me five years. If no work is done, I will not come to ask for votes next time.”
The BJP plans to intensify its campaign through a series of roadshows by its star campaigners such as Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath, Jagat Prakash Nadda, the party chief, and Shah. It continues to bank on Modi’s sway in Gujarat, where he was the chief minister until 2014.
State BJP chief C R Patil said chief ministers from three states and six Union ministers will campaign across the state. The BJP plans a “carpet bombing” campaign with a target of winning 82 out of 89 seats going to the polls in the first phase of the elections on December 1.
At a roadshow on Wednesday, Shah reiterated Bhupendra Patel will continue as the chief minister if the BJP retains power.
The Congress has fielded the party chief Mallikarjun Kharge, his predecessor, Sonia Gandhi, general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, and chief ministers Ashok Gehlot and Bhupesh Baghel to campaign in the state.
The Congress at least hopes to replicate its 2017 performance on the back of the promise of one million jobs, 300 units of free electricity per month, an unemployment allowance of ₹3,000 monthly, etc.