Gujarat election 2017: Congress party has set in motion the process to coronate Rahul Gandhi as the party president in Delhi. But this is unlikely to have any impact on the outcome of the upcoming Gujarat elections where he has put his credibility at stake to beat the ruling BJP. Rahul is leading the Congress campaign in Gujarat. His elevation as the party president is just a formality as there is no challenger to him in the party. It is also unlikely there would be any challenge to him in the coming days.
Rahul has made big claims against PM Narendra Modi’s economic decisions like the demonetisation and GST and also questioned the Gujarat development model. A win would enhance his credibility, which was dented in the Uttar Pradesh elections early this year when the voters rejected his claims against PM Modi’s policies.
The latest development from Gujarat will dent Rahul’s confidence ahead of the crucial poll in PM Narendra Modi’s home state. Congress is hoping big time for coming back to power, beating BJP with the help of votes of Patidars, Dalits, OBCs and Muslims. Among these, Patidar votes would be crucial for the Congress but uncertainty exists on whether the former will vote for the party.
There are a lot of missing links in Congress poll strategy against the ruling BJP. First, the party doesn’t yet have a clear CM face. While most of the Gujaratis are expected to vote for or against PM Narendra Modi, the absence of clarity over the Congress CM candidate may hit the party. Second, the party has provided tickets to a number of Patidars but its relation with Hardik Patel’s Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS) is yet to transform into a solid alliance.
On Sunday, Congress released its first list of 77 candidates, fielding MLA Indranil Rajyaguru of Rajkot East seat against BJP Chief Minister Vijay Rupani from Rajkot West seat. The list angered PAAS members, who protested in many parts of the state while alleging that they were not given proper representation. Even as the Hardik Patel-led organisation had demanded 20 seats, they got only two seats in the first list. However, there were around 20 other Patel names who are not PAAS members.
Surat city PAAS convenor Dharmik Malaviya said the community members were not been given proper representation in the list. Malaviya also threatened that PAAS will not allow any Congress office to function in the Gujarat. In Ahmedabad, PAAS convenor Dinesh Bhambania threatened to organise a protest in front of every office of Congress across the state.
Patidars constitute 15 percent of total electorates and they can affect the poll outcome in at least 60 out of 182 seats in the state. But there is a strong likelihood that the Patidar votes would be split into many fractions as the BJP has also fielded a number of Patidar leaders for the upcoming polls.