Lok Sabha Election 2019: Despite a few favourable factors, the Congress would need a clear strategy to make the BJP sweat in its stronghold Gujarat in the the upcoming general elections.
Lok Sabha Election 2019: After giving the Bharatiya Janata Party a scare in the 2017 Gujarat Assembly elections, the Congress would be hoping to give the saffron party a tough fight in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections. The Congress, which failed to win even a single seat out of 26 Lok Sabha seats in Gujarat in 2014, has many reasons to believe that it will emerge as a formidable force in the home state of PM Narendra Modi and BJP president Amit Shah. In 2017, the Congress won 77 seats, 16 more than previous Assembly election. On the other hand, the BJP’s tally was 99, 16 seats less than what it had won in 2012. Though many would argue that state and Lok Sabha polls are fought on different issues, the Congress has certainly gained some ground in the western state.
Why Modi, Shah should worry in Gujarat
Denying poll ticket to Advani, other veterans could cost BJP: The BJP leadership’s decision to not give ticket to party patriarch Lal Krishna Advani and other veteran leaders to contest Lok Sabha election from Gujarat may go against the saffron party. BJP chief Amit Shah has replaced LK Advani as party’s candidate from Gandhinagar this time. Apart from Advani, another veteran Devjibhai Govindbhai Fatepara has been denied ticket from Surendranagar. The BJP has so far given ticket to only 14 of its 26 MPs in Gujarat, and sources say the party is likely to deny ticket to a few more sitting MPs. The BJP also appears to be in no mood to re-nominate its sitting MPs in Anand, Junagarh, Patan, Banaskantha, Mehsana, Chhota Udaipur which is likely to upset the followers of old timers. Sensing the mood of locals, the Congress had fielded former Union minister and state unit chief Bharat Solanki from Anand. Solanki has won from Anand on two previous occasions in 2004, 2009.
The Ahmed Patel factor: Congress veteran Ahmed Patel was one of the prime factors behind the Congress’ improved show in the 2017 Gujarat Assembly elections. Patel, who is considered to be a close aide of former Congress president and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, even won the battle of prestige against the BJP by winning the crucial Rajya Sabha election from Gujarat in 2018. Patel’s victory was seen as a setback for BJP chief strategist Amit Shah by many. The Congress is also hoping to cash in on Ahmed Patel’s goodwill in the both ‘Ahmed’ and ‘Patel’ communities.
Congress gaining ground in rural areas: One of the major challenges for Gujarat CM Vijay Rupani has been to address issues being faced by the farmers of his state. Dairy farmers of Anand are miffed with the ruling party which according to them has failed to provide appropriate price The Congress has gained major grounds in Saurashtra, a region where the BJP had performed consistently well in the past. The Congress won 34 out of 50 Assembly seats in the region in 2017. The Congress is now hoping to upset the BJP on four Lok Sabha seats – Amreli, Junagarh, Botad and Surendranagar – of Vidarbha. The Rupani government appears to be struggling to pacify farmers in the state which could prove costly for the BJP in its stronghold.
Apart from these factors, young leaders like Hardik Patel and Jignesh Mevani could help the Congress lure youngsters towards the Congress.
The Modi, Amit Shah factor
Despite all these reasons favouring the Congress, the BJP still remains a formidable force in Gujarat. The Congress will have come out with a clear plan to counter PM Narendra Mod hard-hitting campaign and party chief Amit Shah’s strategies as these two leaders have the ability to turn things in BJP’s favour even in the last phase of elections – something that we all have witnessed during the Gujarat elections in 2017.