- The dates for state assembly elections in Gujarat are formally announced by the Election Commission of India. The polls will be conducted in two phases on 01 and 05 December with the counting scheduled on 08 December. The election in India is always anticipated with bated breath for the amount of excitement surrounding the same leading up to D-day is simply inexplicable. In fact, elections are monikered as a celebration of democracy marked by an assortment of paraphernalia that we all have come to closely associate with. As you are aware, the Bharatiya Janata Party which is in the saddle for the last six terms will seek a seventh consecutive term from the electorate in Gujarat.
PC: BOSCO DOMINIQUE
- And what about the anti-incumbency that is usually seen with such long innings at the helm? Going by the look of things, the BJP appears to be firmly in the saddle what with the home state of Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeing the fortunes of the saffron brigade getting strengthened by the day. The opposition led by the Grand Old Party appears to have lost steam this time around. Not surprisingly, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) led by Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal is positioning itself as a formidable challenge to the established order with its unique freebies to attract the electorate. The BJP is pressing all its firepower into the field to continue the unbeaten streak.
- Understandably, the BJP’s big guns Modi and Shah are leaving nothing to chance. The PM has been in Gujarat virtually every week, unveiling new schemes and talking up the state’s development prospects. You know how BJP’s Mission 150 campaign in 2017 ended as a close shave when Congress, propelled by the Patidar reservation agitation and led from the front by Rahul Gandhi, gave a tough fight. Now, with mega projects like Vedanta-Foxconn, Tata-Airbus, and many others trooping in, the benefits of the double-engine government would be evident to most voters.
PC: Faisal Malik
- Insightfully, the en masse replacement of the Vijay Rupani cabinet following the mishandling of the deadly Covid second wave with an all-new ministry headed by Bhupendra Patel much before the elections has helped BJP forestall anti-incumbency to a great extent. Further, the party machinery has also been drilled into election readiness through constituency-level Gaurav yatras.Moreover, Congress’s lackluster and directionless campaign has provided AAP with the opening it needed. After attracting disillusioned Congress leaders and workers into AAP and promising free power to voters, Kejriwal has now pivoted to soft Hindutva positions, in an attempt to poach the BJP vote.
- Interestingly, while at least one opinion poll had suggested that the division of opposition votes will suit BJP, it will not want price rise to become an election issue as unemployment did in the UP and Bihar polls. Not to forget the Morbi bridge tragedy. As such, an extension of the free food grains scheme till December despite Covid waning was an attempt to provide relief. In conclusion, BJP’s sharp focus on industrial development and Gujarati identity, Congress’s Parivartan pitch, and AAP’s freebie bouquet make for a spicy political pickle, making Gujarat perhaps the most fascinating contest after UP. Can’t wait for the dance of democracy to begin.