Gujarat set for local body polls; AAP, AIMIM emerge as dark horses
Gujarat is gearing up for another set of local body polls scheduled to be held on February 28, after the results of the elections to Ahmedabad, Surat, Vadodara, Rajkot, Jamnagar and Bhavnagar were declared on February 24.
Apart from the two heavyweights in the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Congress, parties like the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and All India Majlis-e-Ittehad-ul-Muslimeen (AIMIM) have also joined the foray.
The parties will contest for 81 municipalities, 31 district panchayats and 231 taluka panchayats, the counting for which is scheduled for March 2 as per the Election Commission. Some 3.04 crore people in the state are eligible to vote for these polls, and over 44,000 police personnel, including state reserve police units, 12, CAPF companies and 54,000 home guards, will be in place to ensure incident-free voting
The ruling BJP is on a high after winning all six civic corporation polls, while the Congress believes that the recent hike in fuel prices might derail the party's momentum ahead of the polls.
The AAP, led by Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal, led a roadshow in Surat after the party's good show in Surat municipal election. In this phase, the APP is fielding 2,097 contestants.
Another player in the local body polls this year is Asaduddin Owaisi's AIMIM. The party will contest, for the first time, from the minority-dominated seats in Godhra, Modasa and Bharuch municipalities. Owaisi addressed public gatherings in Modasa and Godhra on Wednesday.
Not to be outdone, the BJP, led by state president CR Paatil, organised a roadshow in Navsari on Friday. Congress leader and Leader of Opposition Paresh Dhanani organised a motorcycle rally in Amreli on the same day.
State Director General of Police Ashish Bhatia said over 44,000 policemen, including State Reserve Police and 12 companies of CAPF, along with 54,000 homeguards will be deployed on February 28 to ensure smooth and peaceful voting in 23,000 booths.
(With agency inputs)