Everything you wanted to know about Gujarat elections

EC announces schedule: Polls to be held in two phases on Dec 1 & 5, results on Dec 8

GN Bureau | November 3, 2022


#BJP   #Gujarat   #elections   #Politics   #Narendra Modi  
Prime minister Narendra Modi inaugurating a clutch of projects in Ahmedabad this week
Prime minister Narendra Modi inaugurating a clutch of projects in Ahmedabad this week

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s home state, Gujarat, goes to polls in December. The Election Commission on Thursday announced the polling schedule, according to which the voting will take place on December 1 and 5, with the counting on December 8.

Himachal Pradesh, meanwhile, goes to polls on November 12, but its results too will be out on the same day as Gujarat, that is, on December 8. Both the states are ruled by the BJP and form a prestige battle for the party.

In Gujarat, 89 constituencies in the first phase are from the districts of Kutch, Saurashtra and south Gujarat, whereas 93 constituencies from the north and central regions are in the second phase.  

For details, see the EC announcement: https://pib.gov.in/PressReleasePage.aspx?PRID=1873396

The previous elections of 2017 were also held in two phases. The BJP, which has been almost continuously in power in the state since 1995, had its lowest tally of 99 then, with the Patidar agitation and other issues impacting the first post-Modi elections in the state. The Congress, the only other major party, won 77 seats then.

This time, the equations are not so simple. The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), which has contested the 2017 assembly and 2019 Lok Sabha polls from the state, is making its presence felt, turning the usual bipolar contest into a three-cornered one this time.

While the ruling party is facing anti-incumbency pressure, the traditional opposition Congress is in utter disarray. The AAP has created the buzz, but with little organizational presence on the ground, it may not be a serious contender, possibly cutting into the Congress votes.

While Modi for the BJP and Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal for the AAP have addressed a series of elections rallies – the PM has also inaugurated a slew of projects in the recent weeks – the Congress is plain missing from the scene. Its key leader, Rahul Gandhi, is busy with his Bharat Jodo Yatra, which curiously does not pass through Gujarat. Yet, reports say some Congress leaders have been silently doing the groundwork at individual level.

To counter anti-incumbency, the ruling party changed the chief minister last year, bringing in Bhupendra Patel, a first-time MLA, to replace Vijay Rupani last year. The party, however, depends on the PM for much of the campaign.

The issues at stake include the not-so-cheerful atmosphere on the economic front, with unemployment and inflation hurting the common people. The Morbi bridge collapse tragedy of Sunday may also impact voters’ decision, at least in Saurashtra region. However, the BJP banks on its aggressive nationalism and Hindutva appeal to sail through.

While there have been a couple of opinion polls, predicting a strong victory for the ruling party, they are going to be outdated once the candidate selection commences.

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