The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party in Gujarat is concentrating on the Saurashtra region, which accounts for 48 out of the total 182 Assembly seats, to regain its lost ground and improve the score in the next month’s Assembly elections.
In the region which is dominated by Patidar and Other Backward Class (OBC) voters, the Congress managed to get 28 seats in 2017 from 15 in the previous elections. The party’s impressive performance in the region can be attributed to the Patidar reservation agitation that targeted the BJP government, which has been in power since 1995.
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However, unlike the Patidar quota issue last time, the ruling party feels that there is no emotional ground for the grand old party to improve or keep its score intact in the Saurashtra region, comprising a large number of bellwether constituencies which have the potential to tilt the power game.
“Forget about improving, keeping their numbers intact is highly impossible for the Congress this time. In 2017, they tried to cash in on the Patidar agitation and managed to get 28 seats,” senior BJP leader Yamal Vyas told The Hindu.
He said that when compared with 2017, the saffron party had improved drastically in the region and it could be attributed to its page committees and grassroots workers. Devrajiya
Mr. Vyas expressed confidence that Patidars and more than 100 OBC communities would extend their support to the BJP in the coming elections.
“The entire situation has now changed. A lot of development works were taken up and they were completed in less than five years. The water crisis, a major issue in the region, has been addressed. As a result, there has been a significant improvement in the farmers’ income and women in the region are very happy,” Mangrol Assembly segment’s BJP leader Velji Masani said.
He said the Koli community in the coastal constituencies of Mangrol, Keshod, Veraval and Talala would be vital in deciding the fate of their party. “There are at least 50,000 Koli voters each in Veraval and Talala, followed by 45,000 in Keshod and 35,000 in Mangrol. “Their votes can be a game-changer here,” he said.
In 2017, the saffron party managed to win 19 seats in the region, which the number was 30 in the 2012 Assembly elections, and of the 28 Congress MLAs, more than 10 have switched their loyalty to the ruling party.
The BJP leaders believe that the new entrant Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) can play spoilsport for the Congress in splitting votes in the region where their chief ministerial candidate Isudan Gadhvi would be contesting from Khambhalia in Devbhumi Dwarka district. “It [AAP] can split the votes, but won’t be able to open its account in the region,” Mr. Vyas claimed. The saffron party is concentrating on districts like Gir Somnath, Amreli and Morbi in which they failed to get a single seat in the previous election.
Brushing aside the ruling party’s claims, AAP’s senior leader Yogesh Jadvani said they would bag at least 25 Assembly seats in the region. “This time, the fight is between the people of Gujarat and the BJP. Definitely, people, who are with us, will get the victory. Congress will be left with single-digit seats,” he said.