BJP chief Amit Shah eyes 150 Assembly seats in Gujarat, but faces strong headwinds

Setting a target of 150 Assembly seats for the Gujarat unit of BJP, party president Amit Shah may have set the pitch for the forthcoming Assembly elections. But how the BJP will achieve this target amidst conditions that are not too favourable for them remains to be seen.

BJP chief Amit Shah seeks blessing from Prime Minister Narendra Modi. AFP

BJP chief Amit Shah seeks blessing from Prime Minister Narendra Modi. AFP

To begin with, the BJP is well aware that the powerful Patels are against them in demand for reservation. So, it is not only the party president, but Prime Minister Narendra Modi too, who is trying to reach out to the community.

On Sunday, when the PM will be in Surat, he will not only inaugurate a charitable hospital by the Paatidars, but will take out a road show in the city which was the epicenter of the agitation a year ago. Hardik Patel was in Surat jail before he was sent out of the state for six months.

The agitated Patel community has been protesting under the aegis of Paatidaar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS) and a large part of the movement had gained momentum in Surat itself.

Many diamond polishing units in Surat are owned by Patels primarily from the Saurashtra region of Gujarat. Through the roadshow and inauguration of a Rs 400 crore hospital, the PM is trying to reach out to the powerful community which has been with the BJP since it drifted away from the Congress in 1985, when Madhavsinh Solanki floated the KHAM (Kshatriya, Harijan, Adivasi, Muslim) and deserted the Patels.

But this time, the ruling BJP and the PM realises it is not a cakewalk as far as appeasing the Patels is concerned.

The Patels are demanding reservations in government schools and jobs.  The BJP has given no indication of giving into their demands. Dalits and the other backward classes also  seem to be upset with the ruling party, with allegations of atrocities and vigilantes.

Amidst all the uprising, the BJP,  including party president Amit Shah and the PM, need to ensure that the party not only retains the state but comes back with a thumping majority.

"Achieving a target of 150 seats is definitely an uphill task for the state unit of BJP which is going to fight the elections in the name of Modi,’’ said political analyst Vishnu Pandya. He said that both Modi and Shah realise the difficulties that lie ahead of the party in the state.

To achieve the given target, the party is working toward increasing its strength in central and south Gujarat. "In the last couple of months, the PM has visited Vadodara to inaugurate the international airport, then to Bharuch to inaugurate the Narmada Bridge that connects to Surat. The Surat visit will also be an attempt to reach out to the tribals of south Gujarat,’’ said Pandya. And the itinerary of the PM also shows the party’s intent to shift its focus from Saurashtra to central and south Gujarat.

After the inauguration of the hospital, the PM would then head to Bajipura village in the neighbouring Tapi district to inaugurate a cattle feed plant and an ice-cream plant of Surat District Co-operative Milk Producers’ Union, popularly known as Sumul Dairy.

He will also address a gathering at Bajipura where a large number of women are expected to greet him. The PM had performed the ground-breaking ceremony of the project in 2014 during his tenure as the Gujarat CM.

"PM Modi will ensure that all the work that he had started as the CM of Gujarat is completed. This is his home state and the focus will continue to remain here. After all, the story of the success of 'Gujarat Model' began here,’’ pointed out Pandya.

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Updated Date: Apr 15, 2017 22:15:16 IST

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