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Amit Shah sets target of winning 150 seats for BJP in Gujarat polls

LiveMint logoLiveMint 29-03-2017 Maulik Pathak

Ahmedabad: Amid the buzz of early elections in Gujarat, BJP national president Amit Shah, while setting a target of winning a record 150 seats or more, on Wednesday hinted that the polls in the state would be held as per schedule.

The BJP chief who was in his home state after the party’s mammoth victory in Uttar Pradesh got a hero’s welcome as thousands of party workers and supporters greeted him with banners and posters at a public gathering at Sabarmati Riverfront in Ahmedabad.

Shah said that at a similar event in Kanpur the party had set a target of winning more than 300 seats in the Uttar Pradesh state.

“And we have achieved it. Today at this meeting I want you all to be ready for winning 150 seats in upcoming Gujarat elections. When Narendra Modi was the chief minister of Gujarat, the party had won 128 seats (2002 elections). He is today the country’s Prime Minister so winning 150 seats or more is our target,” he said in his address.

In his speech which lasted for about 30 minutes, Shah also seemed to brush aside talks of early elections in Gujarat by stating that PM Modi’s ‘vijay rath’ would arrive in the state in November and then move on to other poll-bound states. He asked the crowd, “Are you ready?” to which the crowd shouted that they were.

Elections in the state are scheduled to be held in December. However, various recent media reports have said that BJP was looking to advance the election in PM Modi’s home state to capitalise on the huge Modi wave that delivered the strongest result in last four decades for any party in India’s most populous state of Uttar Pradesh.

The Gujarat assembly has 182 seats and the BJP has come out with a slogan ‘UP mein 325, Gujarat mein 150 (325 seats in UP, 150 in Gujarat). Congress, under the leadership of the then CM Madhavsinh Solanki had in 1985, won in 149 assembly seats, a record that BJP aims to beat this time around. The BJP currently holds 123 seats.

Key party leaders, including Gujarat chief minister Vijay Rupani, deputy CM Nitin Patel and state BJP chief Jitubhai Vaghani were present at the event.

Shah, who is the MLA from Naranpura seat of Ahmedabad, will attend the ongoing Budget Session of the Gujarat assembly on 30 March, a day before the session draws to a close. In his three-day visit till 31 March, he is also expected to hold meetings with key leaders for the upcoming assembly elections.

Talking about the development model of Gujarat, Shah said at the event that the state has progressed under the leadership of Modi when he was the chief minister (from 2001-2014) and today it has become the model for the country to follow. He said that the party has not lost a single election in the state since 1990. The BJP has governed Gujarat uninterrupted for 19 consecutive years, and PM Modi served as chief minister four times before his move to Delhi.

Lashing out at the Gujarat Congress, which recently came out with a campaign on social media called ‘Congress aave che’ (Congress is coming) Shah said that the party will face its ultimate defeat in 2017 elections in Gujarat.

Shah also hit out at the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) which is planning to contest Gujarat polls and said that it was a party that was active only during ‘elections’.

A big victory in Gujarat will boost the party’s prospects for the next general elections in 2019. The party faces some serious challenges in the state where Modi was chief minister for over 13 years. Since Modi left for Delhi, the state has seen separate uprisings by members of upper caste Patels who have been party’s strongest electoral supporters and Dalits.

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