From Garvi to Garje: Gujarat BJP gears up to trounce Cong in Assembly polls

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AHMEDABAD, SEPT 1:  
Amid speculations that Gujarat may go to Assembly polls well before December 2017, the State BJP has charged up its entire cadre and poll machinery in an attempt to win at least 150 seats, out of 182, against a resurgent Congress which is targeting 120 seats.

With this “Mission 150” objective, the ruling party has even coined a new slogan, or clarion call, Garje Gujarat (Roaring Gujarat), an evolution over the Modi era’s popular phrase Garvi Gujarat (Proud Gujarat).

This was adopted from an 1873 poem Jai Jai Garvi Gujarat by the great poet Narmada Shankar Dave (Kavi Narmad). In a politics of identity in the saffron dispensation, the then Chief Minister Narendra Modi had coined the phrase “Vibrant Gujarat”. His successor Anandiben Patel, too, coined another, “Gatisheel Gujarat” (Dynamic Gujarat). Few now remember these!

Soon after the likely expansion of the Modi Government on Saturday, the party will be in top election mode to win the state again, sources said.

The party leadership recently nominated Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, who is a Rajya Sabha MP from Gujarat, as the party in-charge of election campaign, along with three others as co-in-charge — Jitendra Singh, Nirmala Sitharaman and PP Choudhary. They are holding a series of meetings with BJP General Secretaries Ram Lal and Bhupendra Yadav, the latter being in-charge of party affairs in Gujarat.

The poll-charged BJP is leaving no stone unturned to strengthen its saffron hold over the western state where the Congress has been out of power since 1995, after winning an astonishing 149 Assembly seats in 1985. The party believes that the impact of multiple agitations launched by the Patidars, OBCs, the Dalits, the anti-GST traders and others, has fizzled out and will have no impact on its poll prospects.

According to an opinion poll conducted by a national TV news channel in August and aired on Thursday, involving nearly 4,000 voters, the BJP is likely to win anywhere between 144 and 152 seats, while the Congress will share 36 to 42 seats. In 2012, the BJP and the Congress had won 117 and 57 seats, respectively.

A couple of months ago, the Gujarat Congress had coined a slogan, Congress Aave Chhe, (Congress is returning-to power!). Now the BJP has rebutted it with its Naa Chale, (Won’t last!) campaign, as unidentified people put up such posters in Surat and elsewhere, apparently targeting the Congress to watch public reaction in a city where BJP President Amit Shah was not allowed to speak amid huge pandemonium at the height of the Patidar agitation in 2015.

Meanwhile, former Gujarat Minister Jaynarayan Vyas, who is Chairman of BJP’s Election Manifesto Committee, had said on Thursday that the party manifesto, focusing on better socio-economic infrastructure, will be released by Amit Shah in the next four to five weeks.

If the BJP is becoming poll-ready — Modi and Shah have lined up several visits and events in the run-up to the crucial election in their home state — the Congress, too, flexing its muscles like never before since 1995.

A revivified party is now waiting for Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi to launch regional election campaigns in September. On September 4, he will address party leaders and workers in Ahmedabad and meet people from different sections of society.

Reports suggested that he will undertake an unprecedented 4,000-km-long road-shows across Gujarat from September 22 as he will criss-cross the poll-bound state.