BJP, Congress prepare for Gujarat polls

RSTV Bureau

With ‘Mission-150′ on his mind, BJP chief Amit Shah today held a strategy session with the party leaders tasked with leading its charge in the upcoming Gujarat assembly polls.

Gujarat Assembly Elections strategy meet

Gujarat Assembly Elections strategy meet

Union ministers Arun Jaitley, who has been made the state’s election in-charge, as well as Narendra Singh, Jitendra Singh, P P Chaudhury and Nirmala Sitharaman- the four co-in charges- met Shah at his residence and were joined by senior organisational leaders including general secretaries Ram Lal and Bhupender Yadav.

“Detailed discussions were held over the Gujarat polls. We have kept our eyes on ‘Mission-150′ and will work with enthusiasm and energy to achieve it,” Yadav, who is in-charge of the state’s affairs, told reporters.

Gujarat BJP chief Jitubhai Vaghani also attended the meeting. The assembly poll is slated for later this year.

The party has set a target of winning 150 seats in the 182-member assembly. In the last elections in 2012 when Prime Minister Narendra Modi was the state’s chief minister, the BJP had won 116 seats. In 2007 and 2002, two other polls it fought under Modi, it had won 117 and 127 seats.

With Modi now the prime minister, the party must strive to win 150 seats, Shah had told party leaders in Gujarat earlier.

The state has witnessed a lot of development under Modi and it has to be continued, Yadav said today, adding that organisational matters related to the state elections were discussed in the meeting.

The western state has emerged as a saffron citadel with the BJP in power there since 1995 except for over a year when its rebel Shankersinh Vaghela split the party and formed a government with the support of the Congress.

Vaghela recently quit the Congress. Many of his supporters have joined the BJP.

Union ministers Arun Jaitley and Prakash Javadekar were recently appointed as the BJP’s election in-charge for the high-stakes Gujarat and Karnataka assembly polls respectively.

Meanwhile, Congress party also started preparations for Gujarat polls and announced the constitution of a screening committee for selecting its candidates.

The panel will be headed by Balasaheb Thorat, a former Maharashtra minister and it will also have three members who will screen the party’s candidates for the Assembly polls slated later this year.

“Congress President Sonia Gandhi has constituted the screening committee for the forthcoming Gujarat Assembly elections, with Thorat, an MLA and former minister in Maharashtra, as its chairman.

“Former MP Meenakshi Natarajan, Congress Legislative Party leader in UP Ajay Lallu and AICC Secretary Girish Chodankar,” AICC general secretary Janardan Dwivedi said in a statement.

The Congress, which has been out of power in Gujarat for the past two decades, is very keen to wrest power back from the BJP.

Though the party is buoyed by the recent Rajya Sabha election results, it has suffered a major blow recently when its senior leader Shankarsinh Vaghela quit the Congress along with some MLAs.

The Congress would soon launch its campaign in the state and party vice president Rahul Gandhi will attend a workers’ conference in Ahmedabad on September 4, where he will interact with them to help boost their morale