Gujarat polls not before Nov: Shah

Virendra Pandit Ahmedabad | Updated on January 15, 2018 Published on March 29, 2017

BJP chief Amit Shah with Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani, in Ahmedabad, on Wednesday   -  PTI

BJP chief Amit Shah has put to rest speculation that his party will call early elections in Gujarat, telling party workers on Wednesday that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ‘vijay rath’ (victory chariot) will arrive in his home State in November.

Elections to the State’s Assembly is due by December 2017.

Addressing the large gathering here, Shah exhorted them to work towards eclipsing the target of 150 seats set by Modi. The BJP chief is also an MLA in the 182-member Gujarat Assembly.

He said the BJP now had 1,385 MLAs in State Assemblies across India. The party is in power in 15 States, which have 59 per cent of the country’s population and 65 per cent of its land mass. This was made possible by showcasing Modi’s “Gujarat Model” of inclusive development.

Mocking the AAP, which is eyeing the State as its entry point into western India, Shah said Arvind Kejriwal’s party makes its appearance only in the season of elections.

Shah is being seen as LK Advani’s replacement from the Gandhinagar Lok Sabha seat in the 2019 elections, rather than as a possible contender for Gujarat Chief Minister. It is believed that Modi will need Shah’s services for the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, rather position him in Gujarat.

Meanwhile, the BJP chief’s first visit to the city after the recent Assembly polls in five States was ‘welcomed’ by the AAP and the Patidars, among others, with a Twitter trend: “#AmitGoBack”. Shah is expected to attend the Assembly’s Budget session for a day on Thursday.

Firing on all cylinders

Despite sitting pretty in the State, the Sangh Parivar is leaving nothing to chance in its strongest fortress that is Gujarat. In a bid to push issues such as the Patel quota agitation, incidents of anti-Dalit atrocities, and anti-incumbency under the Hindutva carpet, VHP International Working President Pravin Togadia, on Sunday, addressed a well-attended “Virat Hindu Sammelan” in Ahmedabad with the theme of “Hindu First”. Toagdia reiterated the demand for the Ram temple in Ayodhya. State BJP President Jitu Vaghani declared that UP CM Yogi Adiyanath will be the party’s “star campaigner” for polls in Gujarat.

Vaghela’s change of tack

Meanwhile, Congress leader Shankersinh Vaghela, who recently ‘withdrew’ from the race for the CM candidate, may well have changed his mind. His supporters have launched a sponsored campaign on Facebook, replete with his photographs and videos: “#Bapu For Gujarat CM: Gujarat Needs Shankarsinh Vaghela, Simhasan Khali Karo, Gujarat Ka Sher Aa Raha Hai.

By Wednesday afternoon, it had attracted 1.44 lakh likes, 234 comments, 356 shares and 11,300 views. He even told reporters on Tuesday that he would meet them in the “CM’s Chambers” on next year’s Gudi Padwa (Hindu New Year)!

Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal, whose posters were splashed across the city, skipped a scheduled AAP meeting here on March 26. His acolyte and Delhi Minister Gopal Rai tried to get the party forces together for the coming electoral battle, amid accusations that senior leaders were “selling” tickets to aspirants.

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Published on March 29, 2017
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