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Gujarat Polls: Congress plans to change the trend this time

Congress’ aims to highlight the message that it won’t be a party’s govt, rather it’ll be the people’s govt, ahead of the assembly polls.

Gujarat will be holding the assembly election in Dec this year and the final dates are also likely to be announced today by the election commission. Ahead of the elections, both BJP and Congress are on a rigorous campaign to get as many voters to their side as possible.

Congress is trying to play the game on the grounds of BJP in Gujarat. BJP has been selling itself in Gujarat for almost two decades showing the people the Gujarat dream. While Congress in order to get the thone is building its ‘Mission Gujarat’ saying that BJP has only shown dreams, but Congress will fulfil those dreams.

BJP has been in power in Gujarat since 17 years and Congres has never been this energetic and rigorous about its campaign in the state. But this time Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi has himself made sure to raise the height of the party standards in the state. Rahul has been constantly visiting the state in the past few days and has held many rallies and meetings to make the party’s presence be felt in the state. Even the smallest of the details are being paid attention to and Rahul does not want to leave any stone unturned.

According to the sources, Rahul’s main focus to hit the target is on three specific things in Gujarat i.e. business acumen, small and medium sized business and Women’s organisational ability. Apart from this, of course, the Congress leader is hitting hard on the Modi government’s failure over GST, demonetization and unemployment. The sources revealed that Rahul has personally taken up the Gujarat assembly elections challenge and said that he will make the party a serious contender in the state before the voting.

Congress is also making special efforts to reach out to the women in the state, by reinventing the favourite slogan of Modi – “Gujarati Asmita”. Modi had used this slogan in social and historical terms, while Rahuk is using it more in an economic term. According to the sources, the three points at which the Congress is focusing is originally BJP’s agenda, but the party will strengthen them further.

To lure the women vote bank, Congress is spreading the word that there has been no new plan for the women working for Amul in the last three decades but the party will set new targets for them. Rahul also attacking the BJP and RSS, during an interactive session with the students at Vadodara had also made remarks against the ideology of RSS regarding the women. He had accused that the RSS did not believe in empowering the women and had questioned that why are there no women members in the party.

Looking at the prevailing situations in Gujarat, people are agitated with the only talks and no work BJP, but they are still not prepared to take Congress also as a serious option. Though as per the graphs, the party has made a tremendous progress, but it is yet to reach the goals. According to the experts, Gujarat is at a position, where the tides may turn in anybody’s favour and Rahul has vowed to change things in their favour, be it through campaigning or strategising.

One of the thing that the BJP has been taking advantage of, to rule out Congress is the internal differences going on in the party for power.

Rahul has sent a very clear message that the party will not carry forward the company’s manifesto as it had been going on for so many years. As per the party insiders the Congress’ aim this time is to highlight the message that it won’t be a party’s government, rather it’ll be the people’s government overseen by the Congress party.

To achieve this aim, the party members have been given instructions by Rahul to reach out to the people of Gujarat, interact with them, ask them what they desire from the government. The idea of taking the peoples opinion on what should be included in the manifesto is an idea inspired by the Aam Admi Party.

The party always fell behind when it came to the distribution of tickets. But according to the sources, the party has well-planned strategies for this also and everything is being dealt with a systematic manner this time. In order to prevent any differences, the party in advance has told the contenders for the ticket that they will be given different responsibilities in the eventual government.

 

It is also being assumed that this time the selection of the candidate will not be done on the basis of family and friendship, it will strictly be nominated on the basis of its vitality. The party unlike always is most likely to announce its candidate soon. It has not been a tradition for the party to announce its Chief Ministerial candidate, ahead of the polls, but it seems like the party is willing to break the trends this time. Rahul Gandhi himself is overseeing an evaluation of the candidates.

To get the power in Gujarat after almost two decades, it will not be an easy game to win for the Congress to win. Gujarat is a place where 42% of the population is urban population and to add to the toughness, BJP has a stronghold on 62 urban assembly seats. Congress has always been using issues like water, electricity farmers, tribals, etc, but these are not any of the issues faced by Gujarat.

During the assembly polls in 2012, BJP had clean swiped in Surat, Bhavnagar, Rajkot, Vadodara, Ahmedabad, Gandhinagar by nailing down 42 of the 46 seats.

Since the party’s old weapons are not of much use in Gujarat, it has planned to use GST, demonetisation, and unemployment as its major weapons against the BJP. As per the sources, Rahul is confident that GST has adversely affected the business-based cities like Surat, Rajkot and Bhavnagar, and that will help carry the Congress to victory.

This is exactly what Gandhi has been doing throughout his campaign speeches in Gujarat. He always brought up the issues of unemployment providing data that India under the NDA government is only able to provide jobs to 450 youth, out of the 30,000 that enter the market every day. He also attacked the Modi government over his failure in implementation of GST, for more than once reminded that the Congress had warned NDA government to slowly get the economic reform and not hurry in it.

If compared to the previous attempts, the Congress is getting a far better response this time during its campaign and the growing impact of Rahul and the party can be seen. The party’s campaign for a change is also trending on the social media, with the slogan of ‘Vikas gando thaye che’ (development gone crazy)

During his speeches, Rahul Gandhi was many time noticed asking the people what has happened to the development in the state and the people in loud cheers replied that development had gone crazy. This response of the people is indicating the growing influence of the party in the state.

Despite all the tough fight plans and systematic strategies, there is one point at which the party is nervous, with even Rahul not having any backup plan and that is polarisation. When a senior leader was consulted regarding the division of the party on the basis of opinions and beliefs, the leader just replied that “the media will have to come up with a solution for this. If the media doesn’t feed into it, the flames (of polarisation) won’t spread.” Basically, the Congress has still not come up with any strategy to defeat the problem within the party.

Looking at the other perspective the confident ruling BJP also seems to be losing the ground as the people are angry with the government and the feeling of anti-incumbency may rise. There were three main reasons for the victory of BJP in Gujarat. The first and foremost reason is that Narendra Modi led the Gujarat BJP in the 3 assembly elections before taking over the post of Prime Minister and he was also Chief Minister of Gujarat for 4 consecutive terms. The second was the support and the votes of the Patidars and the third reason is BJP’s pro-Hindu image.

As per the current situation in the state, the first two reason does not seem to be in favour of BJP anymore. Narendra Modi has become the Prime Minister of the country and in Gujarat, no personality of his stature is now with the BJP. In such a situation, it is difficult for the BJP to save Gujarat. Apart from this, Patidars have been the BJP’s core vote bank for years, but the community is not in good terms with the party for quite a long time now. BJP is engaged in winning back their confidence of the patrons demanding reservation, but in the last 26 months, it has not been able to achieve any particular success.

In Gujarat, Patidars are considered to be economically and politically influential. Nearly 20 percent of the votes in the state are with the peasant community. For this reason, the Patidars are also called Gujarat’s “King Maker”. The attitude of Patidar society can prove all the political equations wrong in Gujarat.

It is wrong to say that the Patidar society plays a decisive role in Gujarat only on the basis of voters. Of the 120 BJP legislators in Gujarat, 40 MLAs represent Patidar Samaj. In addition to this, seven ministers, six MPs of the Gujarat government, are from Patidar Samaj. In such situation, if the BJP fails to win back the confidence of their old friend, the party might have to pay a heavy price for it.

Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi, in the past 20 days have visited the state twice, aiming for a four-phase campaigning, targetting all the regions of the state. His second visit was to the Central Gujarat, which is considered to be the BJP’s stronghold.

Earlier, during Navratri, he visited Saurashtra. During Saurashtra tour, Patidar’s agitation leader Hardik Patel had welcomed Rahul Gandhi and had also given an indication of extending the community’s support to the Congress. Throughout the tour, Rahul Gandhi met many prominent leaders of Patidar Samaj and advocated for reservation of Patidar. Hardik Patel’s anti-BJP stand has made it seem like he can campaign in favour of the Congress. In such a situation, the difficulties of the BJP facing a lack of skilled leadership can increase.

The Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi concluded the second phase of his Navsarjan Yatra, aiming to cover all regions of the state ahead of the polls on Wednesday. The leader is like;y to visit Gujarat after Diwali for the third phase.

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