Gujarat will face the polls in less than a month now and both BJP and Congress are confidents about their respective victories. While BJP aims to continue its reign in the state, which is known as the fort of BJP and Congress is frim on ending its political exile of 22 years in Gujarat.
BJP has been ruling the state for more than two decades now and the state has also been under the rule of Prime Minister Narendra Modi the then Chief Minister of Gujarat for 13 years. But now Modi no more the CM face of Gujarat and the command being in the hands of incumbent Chief Minister Vijay Rupani, the major question that arises is will BJP nail it this time too?
Even though BJP claims about its victory in the upcoming Gujarat assembly polls, the fact that the Modi wave is fading away and anti-incumbency rising in the state cannot be ignored. Also, the show that the Congress is putting up is giving a tough fight to the ruling government in Gujarat, making it restless.
Regarding BJP’s confidence of winning the polls, in an exclusive interview with the media, Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani said that there is no anti-incumbency in the state and BJP will continue its reign. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, like in Himachal Pradesh is the star campaigner in Gujarat also. But it will for the first time in over 15 years that Gujarat will go to polls with Modi not being the CM face.
When asked about Rupani’s prediction for the upcoming polls, he said that BJP will swipe off more than 150 seats of the total 168. Citing the example of Uttar Pradesh assembly polls, Rupani said that, no media was ready to accept that BJP will win in UP but it not only nailed the polls but won it with three-fourth majority of 325 seats of the total 404 seats.
During the interaction, Vijay Rupani said that compared to earlier assembly election campaigns, this one is different and challenging for him as, he was only looking after the Saurashtra region previously, but this time he has the responsibility of entire Gujarat. He also said that in the previous campaigns he was not contesting the elections, but this time he is the CM face and this all is a new experience for him.
He further added that the BJP is working as a team for the elections, it is like a relay race and the command is in his hands. Which also means that he will be answerable for everything. He also said that there is no anti-incumbency in Gujarat and anti-incumbency plagues those who move away from the masses and become arrogant. “Our government is not arrogant, it is pro-people and we are connected with the people, so we don’t face anti-incumbency,” he said.
On being questioned whether the advent of anti-BJP politics in Gujarat is being started through these elections, Rupani said that it is not like that. He added that in the last 10 years people have seen a lot of bad work done by the UPA government. Gujarat CM also alleged that the government former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh which ran at the behest of Congress high command Sonia Gandhi was one of the most corrupt government ever. He said that it was a paralytic government, several ministers faced graft charges.
The people of Gujarat have seen this for 10 years, they are aware of the difference between BJP and Congress and between Narendra Modi and Manmohan Singh, claimed Rupani. When pointed out that till now BJP was not facing any serious challenge from any political party in Gujarat, but now anti-BJP things have started erupting, Rupani said that those against BJP have not raised any solid issue for which the BJP could be held responsible,
He further added that even Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi hasn’t been able to touch on any issue during his campaigning that BJP would struggle to answer.
Talking about the reservation issue and the protests prevailing in Gujarat, Rupani said that “on the reservation issue, our stand is clear, that we cannot, constitutionally grant more than 50% of reservation quota, but we came up with an alternative for it, suggesting a 10% reservation under the EBC but faced a stay from the High Court on this.”
The Gujarat Chief Minister also denied that the youth of the state are facing an unemployment problem. To strengthen his statement, he put forth facts, first, he said that:
- According to the yearly report of the Central employment department, Gujarat ranks highest nationwide in job-creation in past 14 years. 83% of all jobs created in India were in Gujarat.
- Secondly, Gujarat has the least employment exchange registrations among the big states.
- Thirdly, 72,000 people were given permanent government jobs last year, the highest in the country.
Mocking on Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, Rupani also stated that around 12,000 came to Gujarat from his constituency of Amethi to get jobs.
On the great reservation divide, when questioned how BJp is dealing with the unhappy youth od Gujarat in matters of job creation, Rupani said that “the youth of Gujarat are enthusiastic, we hold the programme of Vibrant Gujarat every two years and the state also holds the highest investment in FDI.” He further added that there is a lot of scope for the youth in Gujarat, from coastal areas to Surat, the state ranks number one in terms of industries, including in pharma, textiles, diamonds. The state holds the first position in small-scale industries as well, so there is no problem of unemployment in Gujarat.
Vijay Rupani also expressed his views on the caste politics being played by the Congress in Gujarat to lure the people. He said that the age-old Congress is weak in Gujarat and the party is standing only with the support of caste-based movements, with the help of the three main community leader, Hardik Patel (Patidar leader), Alpesh Thakor (OBC leader) and Jignesh Mevani (Dalit leader). He further added that this caste based politics is harming the stability of Gujarat. “They are spoiling the atmosphere of inclusive development, that was created by Narendra Modi in the last 14 years,” he alleged.
Rupani underlined to oppose the caste-based politics in Gujarat, as he felt that these type of moves will be problematic for the state in the future.
Taking a dig at the Congress leader for raising a question on the CM regarding the SEBI allegations on him, Rupani said that “I am not even sure if Rahul Gandhi knows what SEBI is or transactions, speculation or delivery-based share trading works.” He further denying all the allegation made by SEBI, claimed that he has not done the slightest thing wrong in matters related to share trading.
Recently SEBI had fined 22 22 entities, including Rupani’s Hindu Undivided Family (HUF), for alleged manipulative trading in the shares of a company, Saran Chemicals Ltd, during the January-June 2011 period.
However, Gujarat Chief Minister claimed that this matter was od 2010-11 when he was not even an MLA, let alone the CM. He said that he had only bought shares worth Rs 63,000, and there was nothing illegal about this transaction.
During the interview, the recent matter of the controversial CD’s getting viral on the media against Hardik Patel was brought up. Though Rupani termed Hardik as a Congress agent but responding to this Rupani said that “politics over personal video clips should not happen, battles must be fought on an ideological level.”
Ahead of the elections, in order to show the party’s works towards developing Gujarat, Rupani said that the project started by Modi almost 10 years back of the gift city is slowly taking off with BSE, NSE, government banks and many insurance companies and discussions are being held with the Reserve Bank and the Finance Minister. Soon it will be an international financial hub, he claimed.
Talking about the surveys and the BJP’s aim to nail 150 seats, Vijay Rupani said that BJP’s win is widely being anticipated but there is a lot of chatter about vote share and claimed that like in Uttar Pradesh, BJP will win the elections by a three-fourth majority in Gujarat as well. Further talking about BJP’s efforts to get majority vote share, he denied that the party is trying to cut any vote share of the Congress.
“We are trying to increase our vote share, solely on the basis of development, Vaghela is Congress’s worry, NCP is also with the Congress and we cannot do anything about the Congressmen being upset with their party,” he said. He further added that BJP is moving ahead under Modi’s stewardship. He also claimed that BJP will definitely get 55% votes.
Keeping his views on the growing popularity of the Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi, the Gujarat Chief Minister said that, Narendra Modi is not campaigning in Gujarat for the time being and neither of the locals leaders are campaigning in Gujarat. The news channels, media channels have to keep going so they are just highlighting Rahul showing petty news, it is their work, that does not mean that Rahul is getting popular.
During the interview, a question was also put up whether the social media blitz of the Congress is making the BJP nervous. This point was brought up in the wake of the Congress’s slogan of ‘Vikas gando thayo che’ went viral on the social media. Reacting to this Rupani said that BJP is not nervous over any campaign of the Congress. Defending the statements made by BJP party President Amit Shah, he said that Shah told that such campaigns are aimed at demoralizing the development campaign. He also added that after the remarks of Amit Shah, many others also criticised the slogan of Congress that does not mean that the BJP was getting nervous.
The last question put forth before the Chief Minister of Gujarat was regarding the rising education costs in Gujarat and whether is was a political concern in the state? Responding to this, Vijay Rupani said that Congress and Rahul Gandhi are spreading rumors that 13,000 government schools in Gujarat have been shut down. But the actual figures are that in 2000 Gujarat had 40,000 schools and currently, 57,000 free government schools are being run in the state.
He further claimed that Gujarat is the only state to cap fees in self-financed schools. “We have also formed a four-member committee for this including retired High Court judges in the panel. This committee will take into account the details given by the different private school and decide the fee structure,” he added.
Concluding the interview, Rupani also underlined the farmers of Gujarat saying that the farmers of Gujarat are progressive farmers. They demand fertilizers, irrigation facilities, electricity and Gujarat government has met their demands. He said that “we have constructed a network of canals. Secondly, for last 2 years, we have brought crops on decided minimum support price. Gujarat is the largest producer of peanuts and cotton, we have bought these crops at a price higher than the market price.”
At the end of the interview, Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani once again confidently claimed that BJP will undoubtedly win more than 150 seats in Gujarat.
The state will face the voting in two phases, first on 9 Dec and the second on 14 Dec. The results of the elections will be declared on 18 Dec, along with the results of Himachal Pradesh assembly elections.