Union ministers Arun Jaitley and Prakash Javadekar were today appointed the BJP’s election in-charge for the high-stakes Gujarat and Karnataka assembly polls respectively. BJP chief Amit Shah also appointed four Union ministers — Narendra Singh Tomar, Nirmala Sitharaman, Jitendra Singh and P P Choudhary — co-incharge for the Gujarat polls, scheduled to be held later this year, a party statement said. Union minister Piyush Goyal will be co-incharge for the Karnataka polls, slated for early next year, it said. Union minister Thawar Chand Gehlot has been appointed the election in-charge for the Himachal Pradesh assembly polls, also scheduled for later this year.
Jaitley and Javadekar have been the party’s in-charge for various state polls in the past. Gehlot is also a veteran organisation man. The last assembly elections in Himachal Pradesh and Gujarat were held in November and December, 2012, respectively. The results were announced on December 20, 2012. The last Karnataka assembly polls were held in May, 2013. The BJP is in a direct contest with the Congress in all the three states. While the saffron party is in power in Gujarat, its bastion for over two decades, the opposition party rules in the other two states.
Since it stormed to power at the Centre in 2014, the BJP has edged past the Congress in the polls in states where the latter was its main challenger. The Congress defeated the SAD-BJP alliance in Punjab, but the BJP was a junior partner in the state. In Karnataka, Chief Minister Siddaramaiah is leading the Congress charge against the BJP, which has made it clear that its state president and former chief minister B S Yeddyurappa will be its chief ministerial face. Siddaramaiah has expressed confidence that he will retain power.
The BJP is confident of retaining power in Gujarat, the home state of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Shah. In the hilly state of Himachal Pradesh where the BJP has not projected any chief ministerial candidate yet, a keen battle is expected between the two parties, with Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh leading the Congress campaign.