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The Hindu
The Hindu
The Hindu Bureau

Gujarat Assembly polls | Kejriwal claims AAP to form the government in Gujarat

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Sunday claimed that the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) would form the government in Gujarat after the Assembly elections, adding that an “IB [Intelligence Bureau] report has also predicted the same”. 

Campaigning in Gujarat for the polls, Mr. Kejriwal contended that the people of Gujarat wanted an alternative to the BJP and the Congress, and the AAP had emerged as that alternative. 

Mr. Kejriwal arrived in the State on Saturday and addressed two rallies, in Gandhidham in Kutch, and in Junagadh. He also participated in a Navaratri garba event at Khodaldham, a major pilgrimage site for the Leuva Patel community near Rajkot.

His participation in the garba event at Khodaldham assumes significance as the main trustee of Khodaldham Trust is Naresh Patel, a social worker and businessman, who had earlier held a series of meetings with top Congress leaders to explore the possibility of joining the Opposition party ahead of the Assembly elections. 

In the Saurashtra region, Patidars are an influential community and can determine the electoral outcome in more than 20 seats. Mr. Kejriwal and the AAP are making efforts to woo the Patidars in Saurashtra. 

Also read: Smriti Irani slams AAP, says Kejriwal’s ‘lies and dreams’ will not succeed in Gujarat

On Sunday, Mr. Kejriwal and his Punjab counterpart Bhagwant Mann jointly held a rally in Surendranagar and announced that the AAP government would provide a daily allowance of ₹40 per cow to cattle-rearing families if voted to power. He also announced that in every district, cow shelters would be built by the State if voted to power. 

The entire top brass of the AAP, including Mr. Kejriwal, Mr. Mann, Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia, and Rajya Sabha member Raghav Chadha, were in Gujarat on Sunday in different places, holding rallies in a major outreach exercise as the AAP sees scope for the party’s growth in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s native State. 

“We will come to power if the polls are held today,” Mr. Kejriwal said, adding that the rise of the AAP in Gujarat has shaken the ruling BJP that has been in power in the State since 1998. 

Seeing an opportunity to grow in the State, Mr. Kejriwal has been visiting Gujarat almost every week, holding rallies, addressing gatherings, and interacting with different categories of voters in town hall events, and also visiting temples and participating in Navratri garba festivities. 

So far, since March this year, he has held over two dozen different political events across the State in a powerful political campaign that has cornered the ruling party and its leaders, who appear forced to react to his claims or follow the agenda he has set in the run-up to the crucial State polls. 

“Now, both BJP and Congress are working together to see that the AAP does not come to power here,” he said on Sunday, reiterating his charge that the ruling party and the main Opposition party had been playing a fixed match in the State. 

“As of now, it’s certain that the Congress will get only a few seats but those MLAs would also join the BJP any moment after the polls,” he contended, reminding that more than 15 Congress legislators had defected to the ruling BJP since the 2017 Assembly polls in the State. 

He urged voters to not waste their votes on the Congress as that would unnecessarily divide the anti-BJP votes in the State. 

According to him, there had hardly been any development in Gujarat during the BJP’s rule of 27 years in the State, and the ruling party had won elections only because the people did not see any hope in the Opposition Congress. 

He has also announced a range of poll sops, including free power, better health and education facilities, and allowances to women and unemployed youth, and now an allowance for the upkeep of cows. 

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