Gandhinagar: After its mammoth win in Uttar Pradesh, the BJP is accelerating its campaign plans in Gujarat, where it has declared its mission statement, “UP mein 325, Gujarat mein 150” (325 seats in UP, 150 in Gujarat). The slogan accompanies pictures of party chief Amit Shah and Prime Minister Narendra Modi in hoardings and other publicity material now on display in major cities.
Gujarat is to vote this December, but there have been reports that the BJP will seek to advance the election in PM Modi’s home state to capitalise on the incontestable Modi Wave that delivered the strongest result since 1977 for any party in India’s most populous state.
Gujarat has 182 seats. The BJP has set itself a target of winning150. “There is a Modi wave across the country, and we are prepared if there is an early election. We will definitely win more than 150 seats,” Chief Minister Vijay Rupani told.
The BJP currently holds 123 seats. A big victory in Gujarat will accrue more prestige points for the PM ahead of the next general election in 2019.
The BJP has governed Gujarat uninterrupted for 19 consecutive years, and PM Modi served as Chief Minister four times before his move to Delhi. The party’s challenges in the state include anger among the Patels, a rich and powerful support group of the BJP, who are upset about being excluded from affirmative action policies. Political opponents have also held the BJP responsible for failing to protect Dalits from cow vigilante attacks.
In July last year, four men were tied to a car and flogged for allegedly killing a cow, when, in fact, they were removing the carcass of a cow that had died of natural causes. The beatings sparked the most serious protests by Dalits in years in Gujarat, with seven youths trying to kill themselves in protest by taking pesticide in different parts of the state. The attack in Una, 210 miles from Gujarat’s main city, Ahmedabad, was filmed.