Ahmedabad: The fight for the 26 Lok Sabha seats in Gujarat has taken centre stage for both the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Congress. As the BJP on Tuesday chalked out a strategy to retain all 26 seats in the 2019 elections, the Congress was battling infighting and trying to put its house in order in the state.
BJP president Amit Shah, who is in Gujarat for a brainstorming session with party workers, on Tuesday held poll-related meetings with party leaders at the BJP’s state headquarters, Shri Kamalam in Gandhinagar.
Senior leaders such as state president Jitu Vaghani, chief minister Vijay Rupani, and the party’s in-charge for the state, Bhupender Yadav, attended the meetings.
“The senior leaders also reviewed the strategy regarding the two Lok Sabha seats in the Union territories of Daman and Diu and Dadra Nagar Haveli," said a senior BJP official.
The Congress is aiming to restrict the BJP to 16 seats but the party has worked out a strategy to ensure that it does not lose any seat in Gujarat, the leader quoted above said.
Gujarat, which is the home state of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah, will have to play a crucial role if the party is to achieve its target of getting more than 300 seats in the 2019 elections. Gujarat is the only state other than Rajasthan where the BJP won all the Lok Sabha sets in the 2014 general elections.
The Congress, on its part, is trying to put its house in order. The Gujarat elections in 2017 are being seen as a revival for the party as it gave a tough fight to the BJP in its home state. Many senior Congress leaders lost to the BJP and many others have emerged as the new faces of the party. This has caused unrest among some senior leaders who feel left out. As such, the Congress, which aims to win at least half of the 26 seats in Gujarat during the 2019 elections, will have to stop the infighting among senior party leaders.
Rajkot Congress president and former MLA Indranil Rajyaguru resigned from the party on Tuesday. This follows Gujarat Congress MLA Kunvarji Bavaliya expressing displeasure with the party’s leadership. This assumes significance as Bavaliya met Shah in Ahmedabad on Tuesday.
Rajyaguru, who had unsuccessfully contested against Rupani in Rajkot constituency last year, has a stronghold in Saurashtra, an area where farm distress and unemployment helped Congress win 79 seats, up from 61 in 2012. The BJP in turn faced one of its toughest electoral battles in Gujarat in last two decades.
Rajyaguru said he was unhappy with the way Gujarat Congress has been functioning. “Those loyal to the party are ignored while those who have acted against its interest are being given plum posts," he said.
His resignation comes on the day the Congress national leadership appointed new presidents for nine districts and three city units in Gujarat.
Calling this an internal matter of the Congress, BJP spokesperson Bharat Pandya said that “Congress, which had imposed a state of Emergency on the country, is today facing an ‘emergency’ situation in its own party."
Congress recently lost five district panchayats and around 30 taluka panchayats in the state that went for elections. In 2015, the Congress had captured 23 of 31 district panchayats and 146 of 239 taluka panchayats.
A Congress spokesperson said on condition of anonymity that there is no internal fighting in the party and party leaders were confident of putting up a remarkable performance in Gujarat in 2019 Lok Sabha elections.