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Gujarat assembly elections 2022: Factors that will play a key role in upcoming polls | Gujarat Election News No ratings yet.

NEW DELHI: Gujarat is set to witness a high-voltage three-cornered fight in the upcoming assembly elections in December.

The ruling BJP is not only facing a 27-year incumbency but also an aggressive Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), which is just coming off its landslide victory in Punjab, and a resurgent Congress that has been slowly closing the gap against the saffron party in terms of seats and vote share.


In the 2017 elections, the BJP managed to win 99 seats -- its worst performance since 1990. The Congress won 77 seats — its best showing since 1985, when it won a record 149 seats in the 182-seat assembly.


The Congress, however, suffered a series of defections and subsequently the BJP’s tally rose to 111 . The Congress has been reduced to 62.
Gujarat assembly elections: Key poll issues

The last time Gujarat witnessed a significant three-way contest was in 1990, when the Janata Dal (JD) won 70 seats, BJP 67, and Congress 33. JD and BJP gained at Congress’ expense, largely due to their pre-poll alliance and smart seat sharing formula.
Here's a look at the factors that will likely play a key role in the upcoming polls:
  1. Anti-incumbency: The 27-year majority rule of the BJP, from 1995 onwards, has led to growing dissatisfaction in certain sections of society. People believe that inflation, unemployment and basic issues concerning life have remained unresolved even after so many years of BJP rule.
  2. Morbi bridge collapse: The collapse of a suspension bridge that claimed 135 lives in Morbi has brought to fore the nexus between administration and rich businessmen. The issue is likely to dominate the minds of people when they go to vote.

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  3. Government jobs: Frequent paper leaks and postponement of government recruitment exams have dashed the hopes of youths working hard to get government jobs, leading to much resentment.
  4. Early release of Bilkis Bano case convicts: Gujarat is considered the Sangh Parivar's Hindutva laboratory. The impact of the remission of sentences of those convicted in the Bilkis Bano gangrape and murder case will play out differently for the majority and minority communities. Muslims are demanding justice for Bilkis Bano while a section of Hindus would like to ignore the issue.
  5. Minority vote bank: Muslims, who make up about 9% of Gujarat’s population, might look beyond the Congress this time. While Asaduddin Owaisi’s AIMIM has been wooing them energetically, AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal has maintained silence on communal issues like ‘love jihad’ and the release of Bilkis Bano case convicts.
  6. High electricity rates: Gujarat has one of the highest electricity tariffs in the country. People are looking forward to offers from the Aam Aadmi Party and the Congress of giving 300 units free per month. The Southern Gujarat Chambers of Commerce and Industry recently demanded reduction in commercial electricity tariff, saying they have to pay Rs 7.50 per unit while their industry counterparts in Maharashtra and Telangana have to pay Rs 4 per unit.

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  7. Land acquisition: Dissatisfaction among farmers and landowners whose lands are being acquired for various government projects. Farmers, for instance, opposed land acquisition for high-speed bullet train project between Ahmedabad and Mumbai. They also opposed land acquisition for the expressway project between Vadodara and Mumbai.
  8. Farmer issues: Farmers are agitating in several parts of the state as they have not been given compensation for crop loss due to excess rains in the last two years.
  9. Lack of basic education and health facilities in rural areas: If school classrooms are constructed in remote rural areas, there is a dearth of teachers. And if teachers are recruited, there is a lack of classrooms affecting education. The lack of primary health centres and doctors also adversely affects health services in rural pockets.
  10. Bad roads: Gujarat was earlier known for its good roads. However, in the last five to six years, the state government and municipal corporations have not been able to construct good roads or maintain old roads. Complaints of pothole ridden roads are common from all over the state.
Key players in the elections:
The BJP has a trump card in the form of PM Modi, who was chief minister of Gujarat from 2001 to 2014.
It has been eight years since he left the chair but his sway over followers in his home state is still intact, and several political observers say he will be a big deciding factor in the upcoming elections.
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Besides PM Modi, Union home minister Amit Shah has also been canvassing the state over the past few months.
The current chief minister, Bhupendra Patel, is likely to give the BJP a fighting change against anti-incumbency due to his clean image and right caste – Patidars are BJP’s bulwark. Patel is on every poster and frame with PM Modi.
Meanwhile, the AAP has been aggressively campaigning in the state with the party's national convener Arvind Kejriwal promising the electors major freebies in utilities and other services. The strategy has made AAP the third force alongside a subdued Congress in the state.

AAP has been relentless in its criticism of the BJP over electricity, education and health -- key factors they may decide the election.
(With inputs from agencies)

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