BJP chief Amit Shah (Mint file)
BJP chief Amit Shah (Mint file)

The tale of two party presidents: Amit Shah and Rahul Gandhi

  • While Amit Shah has been a key figure in planning of the BJP’s election campaign since 2014 elections, 2019 general elections are the first for him after taking over as party president
  • Gandhi is trying to revive the Congress party as its president and is the face of his party in the election campaign

New Delhi: The 2019 general elections is not just a test for the union government under Prime Minister Narendra Modi, but also a crucial step for both Amit Shah, president of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), and Congress president Rahul Gandhi. Both Shah and Gandhi are spearheading their respective political parties in the first national polls which are being overseen by them.

While Shah has been a key figure in planning of the BJP’s election campaign since 2014 general elections, 2019 general elections are the first for him after taking over as the party president. A similar test is for Gandhi who is trying to revive the Congress party as its president and is the face of his party in the campaign for the elections. The 2014 elections were fought by Congress under the then Congress president Sonia Gandhi while Rahul Gandhi was then serving as the vice-president of the party.

For Shah, stakes are very high in this election. He has travelled nearly 1.6 lakh kilometres of the country holding 161 public meetings, 18 road shows, held over 1,500 meetings with BJP leaders and workers and personally visited 312 Lok Sabha constituencies personally. Infact, he held more public meetings than any other BJP leader, even more than Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who held 142 rallies and Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath, who took part in 135 public meetings.

Gandhi, too, led his party’s campaign from the front, addressing over 150 public rallies and roadshows in nearly three months. The campaign of the party — including the farm loan waiver scheme, minimum income guarantee scheme or NYAY and the crowd sourced manifesto — were all directly overseen by him.

Interestingly, there are firsts for both Shah and Gandhi when it comes to contesting this election. While it is the first time when Shah is contesting the Lok Sabha elections as he has replaced senior leader LK Advani as BJP's candidate from the Gandhinagar seat in Gujarat, it is also the first time that Gandhi has decided to contest from the two seats. Apart from the traditional bastion of Amethi in Uttar Pradesh, Gandhi for the first time is contesting from Kerala's Wayanad.

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