The focus of the Congress appears to be on Gujarat, where the Assembly poll is scheduled for December.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched a blistering attack on the Congress while campaigning on Thursday for his party in Kangra district of Himachal Pradesh, where Assembly elections will be held on November 9. But it’s just possible that Mr Modi may have gone in for an overkill, stressing the corruption issue, his party’s favourite subject against its opponents.
While the incumbent Congress CM, the octogenarian Virbhadra Singh, is fighting corruption allegations brought by BJP elements in court, it is hard to think of any political party which has not faced criticism — often found valid — on the same count. In the not too distant past two BJP presidents had to resign as they were up against serious allegations of corruption.
In Himachal Pradesh, the Congress and the BJP have alternated in the seat of power in Shimla, and by that logic it is due to be the saffron party’s turn at the wheel this time. The BJP is thought to be reasonably placed in this battle for the 68-seat Assembly. In small legislatures, frequently the winning side tends to capture a disproportionately large number of seats. On this occasion it has to be seen to what extent the difficulties to ordinary people caused by GST and demonetisation impact the election result.
The election in the hill state is less than a week away but the Congress is yet to bring out its heavy artillery. In contrast, BJP president Amit Shah and Prime Minister Modi have made whirlwind tours. The focus of the Congress appears to be on Gujarat, where the Assembly poll is scheduled for December. A setback to the BJP in the state, where the party has been in power for 22 years, is likely to have national implications for the saffron camp.
Only a couple of months ago, it was widely believed that the Congress wasn’t on the electoral map of Gujarat at all. But suddenly Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi has shown that he can run a blistering and a credible campaign, making the BJP brass work much harder than anyone anticipated.
Rural Gujarat is in ferment. The very basis of the so-called “Gujarat model of development” canvassed by the BJP in 2014 is under question. The OBCs have indicated a preference for the Congress, with their most important leader Alpesh Thakor joining the party. Hardik Patel, the Patidar leader, has not joined up. Nor has the state’s most prominent dalit leader, Jignesh Mevani. But their anti-BJP campaign appears strong. However, the Congress organisation in Gujarat has been rendered weak over a period of time and is thought to be particularly deficient in the urban areas. All things considered, the Gujarat Assembly election is presenting the country very engaging fare as the stakes are indeed extremely high.