The BJP is confident in maintaining its winning streak in the Kutch district in the Gujarat Assembly polls, even as the Congress wages a silent campaign in rural areas and the Aam Aadmi Party sets the stage for a triangular battle through its hat to throw into battle ring.
The All India Majlis-E-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) is vying for two minority-dominated seats.
Kutch, which goes to the polls in its first phase on December 1, has six Assembly constituencies: Abdasa, Bhuj, Rapar, all bordering Pakistan, and Mandvi, Anjar and Gandhidham.
The district has about 16 lakh voters spread across its six constituencies, of which male and female voters are equally proportional. Muslims make up about 19 percent of the total electorate, while the Dalits make up about 12 percent and the Patels, including the Leuvas and Kadvas, make up about 10.5 percent.
The Kshatriya and Koli communities make up about 6.5 percent and 5.2 percent of the electorate, respectively.
While Dalits, Kshatriyas, Kolis, Brahmins and Rajputs have been the devoted voters of the saffron camp for the past two decades, a large portion of the Patels, who were with the BJP until 2012, went against the saffron camp after the 2015 Patidar agitation.
The Congress, on the other hand, was the first choice of minorities and also some of the Patels, rural Kshatriyas and other smaller communities such as the Rabari.
The AAP, which has carried out a blitzkrieg campaign in the arid region with Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal leading a Tiranga Yatra in Kutch, is focusing on fundamental issues such as education, health and water.
The AIMIM emphasizes the development of minorities in the area.
The Bharatiya Janata Party, which has won a majority of the six seats in the Kutch district since 2002, hopes to make a clean sweep this time, riding both a development plank and divided opposition.
“We are confident that we will make a clean slate this time. There is no resistance to BJP as the people are behind us for the development we carried out after the 2001 earthquake,” Satwik Gadhvi, Media Responsible of Kutch District, told PTI.
Although the party does not attach much importance to the scattered opposition in the district according to BJP sources, the outcry among part of the party workers over the selection of candidates is a concern as it has changed the caste of the party in some places . equations.
In Abdasa’s seat, the BJP’s candidate is former Congress defector and incumbent MLA Pradyuman Sing Jadeja, from the Kshatriya community.
Apart from Congress and AAP candidates, an independent candidate from the Kshatriya-Jadeja community is also contesting the polls.
The independent candidate was previously a BJP sympathizer.
In the Bhuj seat, the party has replaced its two-time MLA and parliament speaker Nimaben Acharya with local party leader Keshubhai Shivdas Patel, known for his organizational skills. Acharya supporters are not happy with the development.
In Anjar, the party has replaced its incumbent MLA Vasanbhai Ahir with party leader Trikambhai Chhanga.
In Mandvi, the BJP has chosen Anirudhh Dave over his incumbent MLA Virendrasinh Jadeja.
Jadeja has received a ticket from the neighboring Rapar seat, which won the Congress in 2017.
“For us it is not the opposition, but the resentment among part of the party workers worries us. In some seats, people from the same community, like our official candidates, are fighting as independents,” said a senior district BJP leader.
Congress is running a very low campaign. The opposition party is doing its best to avoid the minefield of municipal politics and is focusing more on governance issues.
For Congress, winning back the district, and especially keeping the two seats it won last time, is a major challenge.
“We are confident that we will win all six seats in the Kutch district. The people here are tired of the BJP’s misrule. The BJP is using all the tricks, like the common campaign, to use everything at its disposal to win the elections,” Congress President Yajuvendra Jadeja said.
The Congress, as in the rest of Gujarat, is conducting a silent campaign in Kutch also by reaching out to the masses in every corner of the region in an effort to cash in on anti-incumbency against the BJP and its pledges on governance issues when voting. current.
However, the arrival of the AAP and the AIMIM has disrupted the region’s opinion polls.
The Congress and BJP fear that AAP could eat their votes among the Patel community, Kshatriyas, minority section and Dalits, dealing a fatal blow to the heavily contested seats.
While the local BJP unit is delighted with AIMIM’s entry, as there will be a contender for minority votes in seats like Bhuj and Mandvi alongside the Congress, which have significant Muslim voter bases, and AIMIM is in contention, the Congress is working to minimize the damage the AAP and AIMIM can cause.
The AAP is focusing on governance issues in the arid region and has pledged to end the region’s water crisis if it takes power.
“People in this area, especially in remote areas, lack basic services such as education, health care and water. For us, good governance is first and foremost,” said Ankita Gor, media responsible for Kutch district.
The biggest positive aspect for the AAP in the election is the freshness it brings to the decade-old Congress-BJP binary in the state political arena and its track record of good governance, party leaders said .
According to locals, the negative factor for AAP in the Kutch region is the lack of organizational strength to deal with the well-oiled BJP and Congress election machinery.
The AIMIM said it is only contesting two seats in the entire Kutch district, so the claim that they are here to reduce Congress votes is baseless.
In the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, the BJP won the Kachchh Lok Sabha seat, which it has won since 1996, by garnering more than 62 percent of the total votes polled, while Congress only garnered 32 percent.
Aside from governance issues, drug smuggling, a water crisis and intercommunal clashes have become major election issues.
Elections for the 182-member Gujarat Assembly will be held on December 1 and 5. The votes will be counted on December 8.
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