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BJP eyes Gujarat sweep as Cong-AAP alliance seeks a toehold

Updated – March 21, 2024 at 09:23 AM.

A dominant BJP looks to win all 26 seats in the state with huge margins

Workers busy manufacturing Election Material at a factory in Ahmedabad, Gujarat


Workers busy manufacturing Election Material at a factory in Ahmedabad, Gujarat
| Photo Credit:
VIJAY SONEJI

In the upcoming 2024 Lok Sabha elections, Gujarat presents a significant battleground, with the BJP aiming for a third consecutive clean sweep of all 26 seats in the State, known as the ‘Hindutva laboratory’ while the Congress, aligning with the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), is striving to challenge the BJP’s dominance.

Despite BJP leaders expressing confidence in an easy victory, the party has not eased its groundwork. It has mobilised 73 lakh booth committee members for door-to-door outreach and divided the constituencies into eight clusters for better coordination.

“This time we have a target to win all the 26 seats with a margin of 5 lakh votes. It is very much achievable as in Lok Sabha elections the voting happens for Prime Minister Narendra Modi. It is a very different kind of interest among the voters. We are specially targeted to improve the performance in the seats represented by Union Home Minister Amit Shah and BJP Gujarat President CR Paatil,” Yamal Vyas, BJP spokesperson for Gujarat told businessline.

On March 15, a day before polls were announced, Amit Shah started his campaign in the Gandhinagar constituency. The same day AAP too began its political drive, with Arvind Kejriwal launching the “Gujarat ma pan Kejriwal” campaign from Vadodara.

Congress-AAP tie-up

The Congress-AAP alliance aims to disrupt the BJP’s dominance, with AAP contesting in Bharuch and Bhavnagar seats, while Congress contests the remaining 24. However, it remains to be seen if this alignment can dent the BJP’s stronghold, given its exponential rise in vote share over the past 15 years.

Congress, facing an exodus of leaders to the BJP, conducted an “independent survey” to assess its standing. The party won only 17 out of 182 assembly seats in the 2022 State elections. “The results of the 2022 State assembly elections were the worst for the party. So we had engaged a private agency to assess the situation and take remedial action,” said Manish Doshi, the State spokesperson for the Congress.

BJP’s Dominance

In the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, BJP candidates won four seats with a margin exceeding 5 lakh votes, showcasing their strong support base. Apart from these four seats, there were 11 additional seats where the party candidates had a victory margin of more than 3 lakh votes. Since 2009, Gujarat has predominantly elected BJP MPs, with the party securing over 60 per cent of the total votes polled in both 2014 and 2019.

The 2009 polls was the last time when Gujarat’s voters had sent a Congress MP to the Lok Sabha. That year, 11 MPs from Congress and 15 from the BJP made it to the LS. The Congress’s concerns extend beyond vote share as it has witnessed a significant number of leaders defecting to the BJP, including former GPCC president Arjun Modhvadiya. This has not only reduced the party’s strength in the State legislature but also impacted its leadership cadre.

While the BJP appears to have a firm grip on Gujarat’s political landscape, the Congress-AAP alliance’s efforts to challenge this dominance underscore the evolving dynamics in the State’s political arena.

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