BJP, Cong sharpen claws for next round of Gujarat poll battle

Virendra Pandit | | Updated on: Jul 10, 2018

Modi, Shah, Rahul schedule July visits to State

Virendra Pandit As Patidar quota leader Hardik Patel braces for an indefinite hunger strike in August, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Congress President Rahul Gandhi and BJP chief Amit Shah are descending on Gujarat this month to kick-start what is seen as a high-voltage, no-holds-barred campaign for the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.

While the PM will visit his home State on July 20, Shah will be here on July 13 and 14.

They are expected to shower promises in Gujarat at a time when the rains have skipped large parts of the western State, except in the southern districts bordering Maharashtra, and farmers are worried about their next move.

On July 20, Modi will dedicate nearly two lakh houses, built under the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana, at Valsad in south Gujarat. He will then inaugurate an animal dispensary in Junagarh town of the Saurashtra region and also attend the convocation of Gujarat Forensic Science University, Gandhinagar.

Shah will perform the mangla aarti on July 14 to start the annual Lord Jagannath Rath Yatra that traverses through the old walled city of Ahmedabad. He will also meet party leaders and attend an event at Karnavati University on the outskirts of Ahmedabad.

Rahul will visit the Saurashtra region on July 16 and 17, apparently as a thanksgiving to an area that increased his party’s tally in the Vidhan Sabha. Apart from meeting party leaders, he will visit the shipbreaking yard at Alang in Bhavnagar district and Amreli, the home district of Paresh Dhanani, Leader of the Opposition in the Assembly.

Recently, senior Koli leader Kunwarji Bavalia quit the Congress, resigned from the Vidhan Sabha, joined the BJP and took oath as a Cabinet Minister in the Vijay Rupani government, all in a matter of hours. More pre-election poaching of dissidents by the two principal parties is expected in the coming months.

Meanwhile, the youth brigade — Hardik Patel, Alpesh Thakore and Jignesh Mevani — is flexing its muscles again. Hardik has announced an indefinite fast from August 25, on the third anniversary of the Patidar agitation, to revive the community’s demands. Dalit activist and independent MLA Mevani has appealed to Hardik to start an indefinite dharna instead.

Recently, the triumvirate gathered together to meet the victims of a hooch tragedy in Ahmedabad and decided to pool their resources against the BJP government.

Published on July 10, 2018
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