Gujarat election results on Monday: 10 controversies that rocked the state
Gujarat assembly elections were held over two phases, giving the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party to attack each other.india Updated: Dec 17, 2017 09:25 IST
The Prime Minister, a former prime minister, and the Election Commission: no person or institution involved in the Gujarat election was spared from attack or abuse. As the state readies for the judgement day on December 18, here are ten controversies that made the headlines.
1. Schedule for Gujarat elections
The Election Commission’s decision in October not to announce simultaneous assembly elections in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh was criticised by opposition parties and two former chiefs of the organisation. T S Krishnamurthy, who was chief election commissioner 2004-2005, called the decision an “avoidable controversy”. S Y Quraishi, who led the commission 2011-2012, said it created a “ground of suspicion” and was “unfortunate”. Elections in Himachal Pradesh were held on November 9 and a month later in Gujarat on December 9 and December 14. The Congress alleged the Election Commission helped the government by allowing it more times to offer sops to voters in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s home state before the model code of conduct kicked in. A K Joti, chief election commissioner, 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.
2. Hardik Patel accuses BJP of ‘spying’ and dirty politics
Hardik Patel, who led the Patidar community’s protests for reservation in 2015, accused the BJP of spying on him after television news channels showed security camera clips from a hotel in Ahmedabad amid rumours that he had gone there to secretly met Congress leader Rahul Gandhi. Patel also blamed the BJP’s “dirty politics” for alleged sex videos of him surfacing on social media. The National Commission for Women is investigating a complaint against Patel, who is the leader of Patidar Amanat Andolan Samiti (PAAS) and is supporting the Congress in the Gujarat elections, about the videos.
3. Patidar leader alleges horse trading
PAAS leader Narendra Patel appeared on camera with wads of cash and alleged on October 23 that he had been offered one crore rupees by Gujarat BJP to cross over. Narendra Patel alleged at a press conference that the money was offered by Varun Patel, a former aide of Hardik Patel who has joined the BJP, NDTV reported. “Varun Patel made a Rs 1 crore-deal with the BJP for me. He gave 10 lakh rupees in advance. They are going to be give me Rs 90 lakh rupees tomorrow but even if they give me the entire Reserve Bank (of India) they will not be able to buy me,” Narendra Patel said, spreading out bundles of cash that he said were given to him to switch sides. The BJP dismissed the allegations.
4. Congress defence of Rahul Gandhi’s religion
Rahul Gandhi’s visit to the Somnath temple in Gujarat on November 29 stirred a controversy after images on social media purportedly showed he was listed as a ‘non-Hindu’ in the vistors’ register. The BJP questioned the “secretive air” around Gandhi’s religion and asked for an “answer”. The Congress’s response was: “We have no hesitation in saying that Rahul Gandhi is not only a Hindu but wears a sacred thread.” The party also said the signature in question was fake. Rahul’s temple visits and his party’s reference to ‘sacred thread’ was seen by analysts as the Congress’s attempt to woo Hindus.
5. Narendra Modi accused of polarising comments
The Prime Minister alleged that former PM Manmohan Singh was part of a dinner--hosted by now-suspended Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar in honour of Pakistan’s former foreign minister Khursid Kasuri--that discussed the Gujarat elections in the presence of the Pakistani diplomats. Singh called Modi’s allegation “ill thought transgression” and demanded he aplogise for his “innuendos and falsehoods”.
6. Aiyar’s “neech aadmi” comment
Hitting out at Modi, Mani Shankar Aiyar said: “Ye aadmi bahut neech kisam ka aadmi hai, ismein koi sabhyata nahi hai, aur aise mauke par is kisam ki gandi rajneeti karne ki kya avashyakta hai? (This man is a low-life person, he isn’t cultured... on this occasion, why does he need to do dirty politics?).” The Congress first asked to him apologise and then suspended him.
7. Narendra Modi’s seaplane ride
The Prime Minister took a seaplane from the Sabarmati river in Ahmedabad to the Dharoi dam in Mehsana district on December 12 (the last day of campaigning for elections), raising questions if the flight had flouted safety norms for VIP travel. The Kodiak seaplane that Modi flew in was a single-engine aircraft, but norms require him to travel in a twin-engine aircraft, reported The Hindu. “How is it that the security guidelines were relaxed for this flight? No Z+ protectee is allowed to fly in a single-engine aircraft, much less the PM of our country,” tweeted Omar Abdullah, the former chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir.
8. Congress attacks Election Commission
The Congress accused the commission of acting like a “frontal organisation of BJP” for not stopping PM Modi’s “roadshow” in Ahmedabad when voting in the second phase of Gujarat elections was underway. The party also filed a complaint with the commission against Modi. “It is a great shame that PM Narendra Modi has turned all constitutional institutions into his puppets, the Election Commission of India being one of them,” said Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala.
9. Opposition parties question EVMs
A few electronic voting machines (EVMs) were replaced after complaints of malfunctioning and tampering in the two phases of voting in the Gujarat elections. Technical snag was reported in nearly 40 machines in the first phase of elections for 89 seats. “All the machines got connected through Bluetooth of three mobile phones,” alleged Congress leader Arjun Modhwadia about polling in the second phase.
10. Fairness mushrooms
Alpesh Thakor, an OBC leader who joined the Congress recently, said Modi eats imported mushroom for fair skin. “Somebody told me that Modi ji has imported mushrooms from Taiwan. Each mushroom costs Rs 80,000 and PM Modi has five every day. I was told he has been eating them since he was the chief minister,” he said.