Ahmedabad: As the
election campaign in Gujarat heats up, the state Congress, which
has been out of power since 1995 when it lost to the BJP, is
confident of ousting the three-term Narendra Modi government in
the December polls.
"The people of Gujarat are fed up with the Modi government. Modi
claims Gujarat is vibrant and he has well-oiled machinery to
propagate his lies. But the people of Gujarat have realised and
exposed his fake claims. The Gujarat voter will give a befitting
reply in December. Modi will be defeated," said a confident Leader
of Opposition Shaktisinh Gohil of the Gujarat Congress.
But how will the Congress counter the onslaught of Modi, with his
enigmatic personality and shrill rhetoric, that too in a state
which has remained polarised since 2002?
"We are exposing Modi's lies. 'Vibrant Gujarat' is a myth. Modi's
Gujarat is vibrant only for his five pet industrialists, not for
the 'aam aadmi'. Over 16 farmers have committed suicide due to
debt or poverty. Crimes against women have increased. Over 16,000
children have gone missing during the Modi regime. Modi moves
around with 300-plus commandos, but there is no safety net for the
people. Farmers and small and medium entrepreneurs are all tired
and feel betrayed.
"We are voicing the concern of the aam aadmi and thereby exposing
Modi. His benefits have been for Tata and Essar only. He has doled
out benefits. There is nothing for the aam aadmi in Gujarat,"
Gohil told IANS in an interview.
He also debunked the perception that Modi had brought development
to Gujarat. "Listen, only those who have NOT been to Gujarat
before 2001 are touting it as developed. Gujarat has always been
developed and progressive."
What about the fact that the Congress in Gujarat is in disorder?
That it has not even projected a chief ministerial candidate till
"There is no leadership crisis in the Gujarat Congress. Unlike the
BJP, we don't have an authoritarian dictator imposing his whims
and fancies on us. We are a democratic party and for us, the
organisation matters more than any individual. We don't have a
system of declaring chief ministerial candidates," Gohil said.
What will the Congress' poll strategy be? How will it reach out to
the state's five distinct regions, its communities and groups like
"We are focussing on the whole of Gujarat and not any one
particular region. Because the entire state needs to be freed from
the clutches of Modi," Gohil said.
"As far as communities are concerned, the aam aadmi will vote for
the Congress irrespective of his or her caste and class. And
Muslims in Gujarat are not carried away by Modi's 'Sadbhavana'
"Farmers will get uninterrupted power supply. Right now, that is
not the case. Also competitive prices for their products. Right
now, farmers are the most hassled section in the Modi regime.
Their land is being snatched away by mafias. All this will be
checked through a special farmer's policy," Gohil said.
Elections to the 182-member Gujarat assembly will be held Dec 13
and 17 and votes will be counted Dec 20.
The BJP has 117 seats in the outgoing assembly and the Congress
59. The Nationalist Congress Party has three seats and the Janata
Dal-United one, while there are two independents.
While the BJP first came to power in March 1995, Modi became chief
minister only in October 2001. The party was returned to power in
the 2002 and 2007 elections. Between 1995 and now, the state was
briefly under President's Rule in September-October 1996 and was
then ruled by the Rashtriya Janata Party, which had broken away
from the BJP, from October 1996 to March 1998, when the BJP
returned to power.
(Rajat Ghai can
be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)