With BJP gunning for a fifth consecutive term and Congress desperately trying to revive its fortunes, Gujarat is heading for an interesting electoral battle. Having already set a difficult target of winning 150 out of 182 seats, the BJP has given the task of election management to some of its most experienced leaders. Here are excerpts of an interview with Minister of State for Law and Justice and for Corporate Affairs PP Choudhary, in-charge for North Gujarat — the home turf of Prime Minister Narendra Modi — with DNA's Manan Kumar:
What according to you is the strength of the BJP that can counter the 22 years' anti-incumbency?
I disagree. There is no anti-incumbency. Rather, the BJP, in all these years, has emerged as the role model for entire India with development, transparency, good governance and honesty getting top priority. The BJP's strengths lies in its grass-root workers. Our karyakartas are confident, resolute, loyal and patient. There are about 4 crore voters of which 85 lakh are our primary members. There are 48,000 booths and for each we have 20 'page' pramukhs and in every 5 booths we have one Shakti Kendra pramukh which makes it 10 lakh persons. They are on their job in a silent manner, and their voice will be heard loud when the results are declared on December 18.
Is BJP wary of the emerging Patidar-OBC-Dalit caste alliance that is firming up under the Congress?
This Congress ploy won't matter. Caste is no more a factor in Gujarat elections, but development is. This is what the Congress is not able to understand, which was the reason for its defeat in UP also. Despite aligning with a much better youth leader (compared to that of Gujarat — Hardik, Alpesh and Jignesh) Akhilesh, it lost miserably because people voted for Modiji's development and not on caste lines. PM Modi's governance model gave BJP unprecedented 325 seats.
Gujarat being a vastly different state has more of trading and manufacturing class that got adversely affected by the GST and demonetization?
It is a misnomer. Only 10% people were affected by the GST and demonetization and even most of them took it in good stride for the sake of the country. Only 1% people who were corrupt and lost due to these path breaking steps are raising voice. Nearly 85 crore or 70% of the people who fall under BPL got benefited by GST and demonetization and are happy. Congress represents those 1% who were protected under its regime and now are crying foul and the rest are with PM Modi and BJP.
Besides, people are watching. The action that is being taken against 2.28 lakh companies that did mischief during demonetization. As of now the data of about 10% of these companies has resulted in unearthing of Rs 10,000 crore black money that was deposited and withdrawn.
Yet Gujarat bore the maximum brunt?
People also bore the brunt when VAT was implemented by the Congress. Public were on the road for full one year. In comparison, there is hardly any angst against the GST. Moreover, we are looking keenly at genuine grievances and the GST council is solving them.
If everything is rosy then what is the need for a busy PM to do so many rallies?
PM Modi wants to break all previous records and secure over 150 seats for the party. He wants to send the message that development, transparency and good governance alone can be the winning factor.
But don't you think Rahul Gandhi is a factor this time? His rallies are attracting good crowds?
People also want some entertainment and they go for it. Don't worry, Congress will regret it later. Rahul is an expert in scoring self goals. He is doing it everyday and we are happy.