With nearly a week left for the first phase of voting in the Gujarat assembly elections, the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party is taking no chances. The BJP leadership has come up with an ambitious plan to improve on its record of winning 127 parliamentary seats in the 2002 elections. However, the success of the plan will be known on December 8, when the votes stored in the EVM machines are counted.
The BJP’s Gujarat Mission plan is a three-pronged strategy of the party in which Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah will reach constituencies won by the Congress in the 2017 elections, while the BJP president will be elected. JP Nadda along with chief ministers and union cabinet ministers will revive party workers in traditionally BJP-supporting areas.
The BJP hopes that PM Modi’s leadership will help the party break all previous records. BJP leaders also believe that the three-cornered competition with the Congress and the Aam Aadmi Party could act as a booster for the party and help it secure more seats this time.
Apart from Prime Minister Modi’s two decades of engagement with the people of Gujarat, the entire plan for the Gujarat mission is being spearheaded by Home Minister Amit Shah. Taking the first step towards a new record victory in Gujarat, the BJP is hoping to not only retain its seats but also win back the seats won by the Congress in the 2017 elections. The BJP leadership hopes that a possible triangular contest will ensure a bigger margin of victory for the party this time.
During Prime Minister Modi’s recently concluded three-day tour of Gujarat, which ended on November 21, he held at least 12 public meetings in various constituencies going to polls in the first phase of the elections. Almost all of these 12 constituencies touched by the Prime Minister’s rallies were won by the Congress in the 2017 elections.
The seats up for grabs in the first phase of elections in Saurashtra, Kachchh and South Gujarat are areas where the Congress has done well in previous elections. In most of the constituencies visited by the Prime Minister, the margin of votes between the BJP and the Congress was less than 12,000 votes. BJP president JP Nadda has been tasked to visit constituencies where his party did well in the 2017 elections.
Nadda’s recent visit to Rajkot, Navsari and Ankleshwar seats is an example of how the BJP is allocating its resources to increase its electoral gains. The BJP has also sent Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan and several union ministers to regions where the party has traditionally performed well.
“Prime Minister Narendra Modi has a strong bond with the people of Gujarat. This bond with the people is also because he has been the Chief Minister for three terms. The feedback we have received from various constituencies is that they want PM Modi to visit their areas. At least once and met him. When we spoke to people in constituencies where Congress won last time, they told us categorically that if BJP wants people to vote for it, PM Modi should visit the constituency,” he said. , aware of the development.
The BJP has devised a detailed plan to ensure that the election results are not only in favor of the party but also break all previous poll records. The ruling party has divided the state into five different zones and the election campaign in each zone is overseen by a cabinet minister in the Gujarat government.
“The Mission Gujarat plan is being spearheaded by Home Minister Amit Shah as he is our strategist and understands the state. The division of Gujarat into five different zones is overseen by Chief Secretary (organization) Ratnakar, who works with Gujarat’s cabinet ministers to oversee the management of the polling booth of each constituency,” said a senior BJP leader from Gujarat.
Similarly, it has been decided that Shah will campaign in the regions and constituencies where the BJP lost to the Congress in the last election. BJP leaders believe Shah’s presence will strengthen cadres that will benefit the party.
Both PM Modi and Shah are campaigning individually in areas where the Congress won seats in previous elections.
“The real triangular election battle will be seen in Saurashtra, Kachchh and South Gujarat as Congress won a lot of seats in these parts last time and even AAP is eyeing these regions. It is Rajkot, Kachchh and Surat regions where AAP believes it can make an impact,” said Amit Dholakia, head of the department of political science at the Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda.