Gujarat polls: The equation between the BJP and the Political Secretary to Congress President Sonia Gandhi, Ahmed Patel has not been a rosy one and it is going from bad to worse over the recent months. Things have heated up as Gujarat Elections 2017 are drawing nearer. Now, a poster has emerged in Surat reportedly calling for Muslims to unite and support Congress for sake of Patel. The poster also urged people to make Patel ‘Wazir e Alam’ of Gujarat. The Congress Rajya Sabha MP has hit back promptly alleging it was the handiwork of BJP. “This is a misinformation campaign by the BJP as now they know they are going to lose,” Patel said about the poster seen in Surat. Patel also asserted that he was never the Chief Ministerial candidate for Congress and said, “neither will I ever be.” Earlier this year a war of words had erupted between Congress and BJP after the ruling party at the centre had fielded a Congress turncoat against Patel in Rajya Sabha elections.
Following a dramatic series of events, Patel was re-elected to Rajya Sabha from Gujarat along with BJP president Amit Shah and Union Minister Smriti Irani. Patel polled 44 votes, the required number to cross the line after the Election Commission declared two votes cast by rebel Congress legislators invalid. Shah and Irani received 46 votes each. Congress turncoat Balwantsinh Rajput registered only 38 votes.
Meanwhile, the high-octane campaign for the first phase of the crucial Gujarat Assembly polls, viewed as a prestige battle for Prime Minister Narendra Modi and a litmus test for the leadership of soon-to-be Congress chief Rahul Gandhi, will end today. A total of 89 seats — out of 182 — spanning the Saurashtra and South Gujarat regions, are up for grabs in the first phase with 977 candidates in the fray, including Chief Minister Vijay Rupani. Voting will be held on December 9. The second and final phase of the polls will be held on December 14 and the counting of votes will be taken up on December 18.
PM Modi and Rahul Gandhi had aggressively led their parties campaigns in Saurashtra and south Gujarat which often turned personal. Saurashtra and Kutch are crucial for the ruling BJP as these two regions have the highest concentration of seats in the first phase. Political pundits believe that the party winning the maximum number of seats from Saurashtra and Kutch will be better placed to form the next government in the state. Saurashtra, located on the Arabian Sea coast, covers 11 districts of the state. Kutch is the largest district comprising 10 talukas, 939 villages and six municipalities.
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Of the 58 seats in Saurashtra and Kutch, the BJP had won 35 in the 2012 Assembly polls and the Congress 20. Of the remaining three seats, two were won by the now-defunct Gujarat Parivartan Party (GPP) of Keshubhai Patel and one by the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP). In 2007, the tally of the BJP and the Congress in Saurashtra and Kutch stood at 43 and 14 respectively, while the NCP had bagged one seat. Of the 35 seats spread across the seven districts of south Gujarat, the BJP had won 28 and the Congress six in the 2012 polls. The remaining seat was won by “Others”.