NEW DELHI: After Congress’ strategist Ahmed Patel stalled saffron juggernaut in the Gujarat Rajya Sabha elections, spotlight is back on the BJP chief Amit Shah’s ambitious target to win not less than 150 seats in the upcoming state Assembly elections.
With the scale of electoral victory only zooming after each election, the BJP chief had apparently set the target to win all the three Rajya Sabha seats from Gujarat despite lacking in number. The BJP had gone to the town saying that the party had numbers to win all the three seats till the Election Commission stuck to the precedence of Haryana and invalidated two votes to allow Ahmed a record fifth term in the Upper House.
Even while the BJP sticks to rigorous training and undertakes muck-voting to ensure that no mistake is committed during actual polling, two rebel Congress MLAs erred leading to wastage of their votes. “The BJP chief believes in the strategy that the enemy should not be left half dead. The unprecedented exercise undertaken to stop Patel winning the Rajya Sabha seat was part of the strategy to infuse shock in the Congress camp in the state ahead of the Assembly election. But the script has not gone on the expected lines, besides somewhat denting invincible image of the BJP chief,” said a senior BJP functionary. Except for the Delhi and Bihar debacles in 2015, Shah had been cruising to electoral victories.
The BJP had won 116 Assembly seats in 2012 and 117 out of the total 182 seats in 2007 when the party was led by Narendra Modi. The incumbent chief minister Vijay Rupani is apparently seen staying in the shadow of Shah and is yet to command the popularity of his famous predecessor. That the Patidar agitation has been giving the BJP reasons for concerns on a regular basis seems very much alive because of which the saffron outfit is keen to wean away Congress leaders from the Saurashtra region.
The resignation of the former state chief minister Shankarsinh Vaghela from the Congress on the eve of the Rajya Sabha polls had seemingly given hope to the BJP of achieving “Congress mukt Gujarat”. But the Congress survived the BJP bid to hand over the party “humiliation” ahead of the Assembly elections. The BJP also appears to have made its intent clear that the party will not resist poaching leaders from the Congress to beat anti-incumbency factor against the state government. Still, BJP leaders opined, the target to win 150 out of the total 182 seats looks very ambitious after the Tuesday late night thriller in Gandhinagar.