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Thursday, Aug 22, 2019

Amit Shah eyes what even Narendra Modi could not: 150 seats in Gujarat

Riding on the back of three-fourths majority in UP, the BJP chief is confident of the numbers in the Gujarat assembly elections—a matter of prestige for Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

india Updated: Apr 01, 2017 07:30 IST
Kumar Uttam
Kumar Uttam
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
BJP president Amit Shah is presented a turban during a party workers' meeting in Ahmedabad on Thursday.
BJP president Amit Shah is presented a turban during a party workers' meeting in Ahmedabad on Thursday.(PTI)

BJP chief Amit Shah has set a target for himself in Gujarat that even Narendra Modi could not achieve—winning 150 assembly seats. Modi’s best performance is 127 out of 182 seats in the 2002 polls, held after Godhra riots.

Shah raising the bar for Gujarat BJP coincides with BJP’s stellar performance in Uttar Pradesh where it won with more than three fourths majority this month. UP is home to more than 200 million people and more populous than countries like Pakistan and Brazil.

Addressing BJP workers at Sabarmati riverfront on Wednesday, Shah said, “After 325 seats in UP, go out with confidence that we will get more than 150 seats in Gujarat.”

Under Modi, BJP won 127 seats in 2002, 117 in 2007 and 115 in 2012 assembly elections.

Gujarat goes to poll in November-December this year. “Narendrabhai no vijayrath November ma Gujarat aavse (Narendra Modi’s victory run will reach Gujarat in November),” he said.

BJP’s Mission-150 has several dimensions. No party has every crossed that figure in Gujarat. Congress came nearest to it in 1985 winning 149 seats under veteran Madhav Singh Solanki.

Congress’s fortune has been on a decline since 1990 and its tally ranged between 51 and 61 seats in the last three assembly elections.

With Modi as country’s Prime Minister, his trusted lieutenant Shah managing Gujarat affairs and Congress’s stock at an all time low, the BJP sees itself within a striking distance of achieving the mission 150.

Winning Gujarat is crucial for Modi, Shah and the BJP.

Modi ruled the western state between October 2001 and May 2014. It was his “Gujarat model” of governance that helped him capture the imagination of electorate who were tired after a controversy-ridden 10-year-long rule of Manmohan Singh. Modi, certainly, cannot afford to lose Gujarat. Any slide in BJP’s performance in Gujarat will be a personal setback for the Prime Minister.

It was Shah who prevailed upon Modi to drop Anandiben Patel as the chief minister in August 2016. Patel was handpicked by Modi to succeed him in Gujarat but remained at loggerheads with Shah, who believed that she 1941-born woman leader could not fit into Modi’s shoes.

Shah not only ensured Patel’s removal, but managed to install his confidant Vijay Rupani as chief minister instead of Nitin Patel in a last minute dramatic turn of events.

Gujarat BJP leaders see Shah—and not Rupani—as the boss. Shah will have to bear the brunt of any adversity in Gujarat. If he manages to pull off a victory, it will be another feather in his cap. Accomplishment of mission 150 will establish him as the ‘king’ of the BJP.

First Published: Mar 31, 2017 15:01 IST

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