BJP set to retain its stronghold in Gujarat
By: Vinod Chandrashekhar Dixit
Elections to the 182-member Gujarat Assembly will be held in two phases next month – on December 1 and 5. In the first phase, 89 seats will go to polls on December 1 and remaining 93 seats will go to polls on December 5 in the second phase. Congress, had put up a strong fight in the last assembly polls, is now seeking to oust the BJP from power in Gujarat and AAP is also seeking to make its presence felt in the state and therefore the challenge has increased in this election. The BJP has won six consecutive assembly polls in Gujarat.
Gujarat is a stronghold of the BJP. It is the home state of Prime Minister NarendraModi and Home Minister Amit Shah. The party has been in power in the western state for 27 years.It is reported that Gujarat Chief Minister Bhupendra Patel’s name is proposed as the candidate of the Ghatlodiya constituency of Ahmedabad ahead of the state Assembly polls. He belongs to the Kadva sub-caste of the influential Patidar community and holds a diploma in civil engineering. Nearly 50 BJP workers unanimously demanded to give the ticket to Bhupendra Patel for the said seat. This time it seems BJP is not fighting the Gujarat state election to avert defeat but to increase its victory margins and win a greater number of seats in the 182-member assembly.
When the BJP came to power in the state in 1995, it won 121 seats; that peaked 127 seats with NarendraModi as chief minister in 2002, after the vicious riots earlier that year. In the second Modi-led election in 2007, the BJP got 117 seats; in 2012, it got 115 seats. The peak for the BJP was 127 seats and the lowest was 99. It never came close to the record of 149 seats won by the Congress under the leadership of Madhavsinh Solanki in the year 1985. This time, according to the opinion poll, the BJP is projected to win between 131 and 139 seats in the 182-member Gujarat Assembly. In the previous Assembly polls in 2017, the BJP had won 99 seats. The Congress’ tally is expected to drop precipitously from 77 seats in 2017 to between 31 and 39 seats this time. According to the P-MARQ opinion poll, the BJP is predicted to win 127-140 seats out of the total 182 as against the 99 seats which the saffron party bagged in last assembly election. If the BJP indeed wins 127-140 seats in the Gujarat Assembly Election 2022, the saffron party may win the highest number of seats since 2002. The survey has put AAP below BJP and Congress, with Kejriwal’s party expected to secure only 7-15 seats.While ArvindKejriwal-led AAP’s performance will be satisfactory, Congress, despite its ‘Bharat JodoAbhiyaan’,will be left disappointed in Gujarat. No doubt, with its aggressive campaign, AAP is projecting itself as the main challenger to BJP in the state. The Congress party suffered a significant setback when one of its most influential figures, Ahmed Patel, died of complications related to a covid infection the previous year. Hardik Patel, another important figure, announced his resignation from Congress earlier this year and joined BJP.This time the arithmetic seems tilted towards the BJP as it has roped in Patidar leader Hardik Patel and OBC leader AlpeshThakor under its fold.
Bhupendra Patel will remain the chief minister of Gujarat if BJP secures a majority in the next month’s Assembly elections. BharatiyaJanata Party leader and Ghatlodia MLA Bhupendra Patel took oath as the 17th Chief Minister of Gujarat. It is believed that Patel holds a strong influence in the Patidar community in Gujarat which the BJP has banked upon to win the upcoming elections.ThePatidars are a dominant caste in Gujarat with a sizeable control over the electoral votes.
The Gujarat contest this time will be more interesting. Gujarat has been a BJP throttlehold for a long time, and the party has set its sights on returning to power with a handsome majority this time.If BJP gets a majority in Gujarat, Bhupendra Patel will be the next chief minister and Gujarat will break all records and will win with the most number of seats.
The author hails from JodhpurTekra Ahmedabad