Battle for the stronghold in Gujarat – Nation News

Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrived in Bhuj on August 28 to inaugurate the Narmada Canal which will bring water to dry Kutch from southern Gujarat. The state is set for assembly elections in December and at a subsequent rally he surprisingly brought up the old specter of plots to smear Gujarat after the 2002 riots when he was prime minister (2001-14). This was unusual for the prime minister, a departure from the script of the past two years in which he stopped talking about the past and focused more on future opportunities for the state.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrived in Bhuj on August 28 to inaugurate the Narmada Canal which will bring water to dry Kutch from southern Gujarat. The state is set for assembly elections in December and at a subsequent rally he surprisingly brought up the old specter of plots to smear Gujarat after the 2002 riots when he was prime minister (2001-14). This was unusual for the prime minister, a departure from the script of the past two years in which he stopped talking about the past and focused more on future opportunities for the state.

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PM Modi waves to the crowd at the Khadi Utsav event as CM Patelwatches; Kejriwal with AAP leaders at a tiranga yatra in Mehsana in June; (Photo: ANI)

The PM’s jam-packed two-day tour also included a roadshow in Bhuj (the fourth in the state since March), the inauguration of the pedestrian-friendly Atal Bridge across the Sabarmati River, and joining a Khadi Utsav event where he spun a charkha with 7,500 artisan women. from all over Gujarat. All of this frenetic activity, of course, occurred in the context of two major developments in the state. Just 10 days earlier, on August 19, a major state cabinet review led by Chief Minister Bhupendrabhai Patel had taken place. Then there was the state government’s controversial Independence Day ‘gesture’, freeing 11 people convicted of participating in the Bilkis Bano gang rape and the murder of 14 members of his family in the 2002 communal attacks. BJP says Modi was in a meeting with state leaders, taking stock of the consequences of the two developments.

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On August 19, CM Patel took important jobs away from two of his ministers. Rajendra Trivedi lost income while Purnesh Modi had to abandon roads and buildings. No official explanation for the move has been given, but a BJP source said flippantly that the leadership was in no mood to give the opposition a chance to point fingers when it comes to “inefficiency and protecting the guilty”. So close to the elections. Trivedi, the number 2 in the cabinet, had a penchant for live-streaming his “raids” on government officials (rumor is he pissed off too many people) while Purnesh Modi is in the dock for protecting a contractor responsible for failures. bridge work. Both ministers, however, continue to occupy a series of less important portfolios.

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This kind of action has been taken in the past. In March, the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) had asked the CM to fire his personal assistant, Dhrumil Patel. Then in July, BJP state chairman CR Patil was asked to fire aide Sudhanshu Mehta after receiving allegations of corruption.

Gehlot’s plan for the Gujarat Congress is to highlight the “failures: in health and education” of the BJP government.

The BJP has had an uninterrupted run in Gujarat for nearly three decades, but the years have taken their toll with anti-incumbent and corruption scandals. They still have a lot going for them in this election: Modi, whose image shines as usual, a strong party organization, a relatively efficient administration, and most importantly, an opposition Congress that is in shambles. The latter has been largely due to the poaching of the BJP at regular intervals; many high-level leaders, including 13 of the 77 Congressional MLAs, have crossed paths in the last four and a half years. Former legislator and AICC member Naresh Raval was the last to leave on August 18.

CM Patel, who has been on the bench for less than a year, has tried to establish himself as a man of the people. Election season largesse has included a three percent increase in the famine allowance for state employees and 1kg of pulses at reduced prices for 7.1 million ration card holders registered under the National Food Security Act in 250 talukas. “We’ve developed a work culture where people feel less worried and their problems are resolved as quickly as possible,” he said in his I-Day speech.

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As usual, the BJP has set the high goal of winning at least 150 seats on the organisational front (one more than the state record set by then-Congress CM Madhavsinh Solanki in 1985). When he told party workers in Ahmedabad on August 21 that “the BJP is working day and night to win all 182 seats,” State President CR Patil sounded optimistic. Union Ministers Amit Shah, Mansukh Mandaviya, and Parshottam Rupala are worried in Delhi. There are rumours that Patil, who is known as “super CM” because of his influence over Bhupendrabhai, could be the candidate for CM if the party beats its previous record of 127 seats. But Patil has said that it won’t happen. He says, “Bhupendrabhai will be our face of CM.”

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In the meantime, the Congress party and the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) are trying to sell voters on the “Rajasthan model” and the “Delhi model,” respectively. Congress hopes that Rajasthan CM Ashok Gehlot, who ran his campaign in 2017, will help him again. Gehlot is also in charge of voting this time, and he spent three days last week camping in Gujarat (Aug 18-20). He has talked to party leaders in Surat, Vadodara, Rajkot, and Ahmedabad, but the party isn’t ready to release a campaign plan yet. A programme called “Bolo Sarkar” has been started. Under this programme, congress workers will hold about 2,000 meetings in rural areas to get people’s ideas. Party sources say that many of the best ideas could end up in the manifesto after the higher-ups review them.

A leader of the Gujarat Congress says that the focus will be on the “failures” of the BJP government in the areas of education and health. Gehlot wants party members to talk about how the Rajasthan government plans to pass a “right to health” bill. This is in response to how badly Gujarat has handled the situation since Covid. During the campaign, there will also be a lot of talk about bringing the “Chiranjeevi Health Insurance Scheme” to Gujarat. In Rajasthan, this programme gives all families health insurance. “It hurt me a lot to see how bad Gujarat was during the pandemic. Even though the government was in charge for 27 years, nothing was done to save lives, Gehlot told reporters.

Gehlot won 77 seats for Congress in 2017 as a pollster. This was his best year since 1995. In the polls at the time, the party even came up with a catchy slogan: “Development is dead” (Vikas gando thayo chhe), which was a play on Modi’s favourite word, “vikas.” However, this wasn’t enough to stop the saffron party. Even Gehlot might not be able to save Congress after what has happened in the last two years. Many of the leaders of the big parties switched to the BJP. Gehlot is still ready to fight, though. On August 20, he told reporters in Ahmedabad that Prime Minister Modi is a “star actor.”

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But the Congress is more worried about the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) than it is about the BJP. Arvind Kejriwal, the leader of the AAP and the Chief Minister of Delhi, is putting his attention on Saurashtra and the southern part of Gujarat this time. He has said that he will use his “Delhi model” to make sure that government schools in Gujarat are good. At a town hall in Bhuj on August 16, Kejriwal talked about his plan to do this. It includes opening new public schools, doing an audit of private schools, freezing the fee structure, and making the jobs of contract teachers permanent.

Kejriwal is also talking up its special gifts for passengers, such as 300 free units of electricity per month, a monthly unemployment benefit of Rs 3,000 for young people, and Rs 1,000 for women over the age of 18. the message of the party on social media sites. The CM of Delhi has even asked new teachers and police officers to secretly work for the AAP. “Police officers want to make more money. “If you work for us and help us build an AAP government, we’ll pay you more,” he said.

Kejriwal’s words are getting a lot of attention, which is not a surprise because they are hurting Congress. Former Union Minister Tushar Chaudhary calls APP “BJP team B,” and former state Congress chief Arjun Modhwadia has been telling anyone who will listen that his party promised farmers free electricity in May. Gopal Italia, the state president of the AAP, says that the Congress must first keep its promises in Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh, which he rules. The BJP, on the other hand, likes the attention. “If the AAP cuts congressional votes, it will help our margins,” says a top state leader.


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