New Delhi: Rebel Bharatiya Janata Party candidates may not have much effect on the party's winning prospects in Gujarat elections, the saffron unit believes. Though the party feels that its poll prospects may have been adversely affected in Himachal Pradesh due to the rebel factor but the saffron front is confident these candidates will not have much effect in its stronghold of Gujarat.
Despite denying tickets to 38 former legislators, among them former Chief Minister Vijay Rupani and former Deputy CM Nitin Patel and other ministers, the party feels that it has strong control over its cadres in Gujarat and that the rebels would not affect its traditional votes.
The party has been able to use the carrot-and-stick policy to ensure that rebels withdraw from the fray. In fact, several sitting MLAs who were denied tickets were asked to accompany the new BJP candidates to public meetings and seek votes for the party. This was done to give out a clear message that the party is fighting as a united force, sources said.
This is starkly in contrast to Himachal, where Prime Minister Narendra Modi had to call up several rebels to seek their withdrawal from the contest. And despite this call, the rebels didn’t leave the field, which is expected to hurt the BJP prospects.
In fact, the party is fearful that in Himachal it may face upsets on several seats due to these rebel candidates. However, no such fear is being expressed in Gujarat as the party is confident that voters are still backing the strong leadership of PM Modi.
Party sources stated that this confidence came from the fact that in Gujarat “BJP means Modi”.
Modi and Shah factor
The two top leaders of the saffron party hailing from Gujarat, PM Modi and union minister Amit Shah, have the state on a tight leash, managing the affairs of the state themselves. Sources stated that despite being away from direct state politics for several years the two have maintained their connection with the masses and hold over the state BJP unit.
The voters of the state are expected to continue to vote for Gujarati asmita and development plank under the leadership of PM Modi, who is considered to be the local leader who is leading the nation towards success. So the party is engaging the Prime Minister in a large-scale mass contact program through rallies and public meetings.
The strategy and planning of the entire process have been taken over by former BJP chief and union home minister Amit Shah. All senior Union cabinet ministers and BJP's chief ministers from other states, including the most sought-after UP CM Yogi Adityanath, have been deployed strategically to target voters across the state. Through this micromanagement, the party is trying to ensure that the BJP secures an unprecedented seventh term in the state.
The BJP leadership is ensuring that it does not act complacent like it seemingly did in 2017. The party wants to return to power in the state with an unprecedented and good performance which was marred by a double-digit seat tally of 99 in the 2017 assembly polls.
The saffron party is also maintaining its nationalism, development and infrastructure focus in Gujarat to ensure that its reach amongst traditional voters continues.
Of the 182 assembly seats in Gujarat, 89 constituencies will vote in the first phase, and the rest 93 in the second phase. Votes will be counted on December 8 along with Himachal Pradesh which voted on November 12.