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Campaigning ends for first phase of Gujarat assembly elections; Polling to take place on Thursday for 89 assembly seats

Banibrata Datta: Campaigning for the first phase of Assembly elections in Gujarat ended this evening after reaching a feverish pitch. Polling will take place on Thursday for 89 assembly seats spread over Saurashtra, Kutch and Sou…

Banibrata Datta: Campaigning for the first phase of Assembly elections in Gujarat ended this evening after reaching a feverish pitch. Polling will take place on Thursday for 89 assembly seats spread over Saurashtra, Kutch and South Gujarat. 788 candidates are in the fray in this phase.

Meanwhile, campaigning for the second phase has intensified. BJP President JP Nadda addressed public meetings in Dahod and Vadodara. Senior party leader and Home Minister Amit Shah also held election rallies at Dahod, Kheda, and Ahmedabad districts Tuesday. Aam Aadmi Party leader and Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Maan held road shows at Limdi and Botad in the Saurashtra region.

Local body elections : BJP swept the 2021 Gujarat local body elections by winning all corporation and district panchayats and Indian National Congress (Congress) gained majority in one municipality and 18 taluka panchayats. On one side BJP increased its strength and on the other side Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) made significant inroads to be considered as a contender in the state.

2022 Gujarat Legislative Assembly election is scheduled to be held in Gujarat from 1 to 5 December 2022 in two phases, to elect 182 members of 15th Gujarat Legislative Assembly. The votes will be counted and the results will be declared on 8 December 2022. Date of poll 1 December 2022 5 December 2022. Source said, Registered voters

Male 2,53,36,610

Female 2,37,51,738

Third Gender 1,417

Total 4,90,89,765


Male 1,482

Female 139

Total 1,621

Polling stations

Urban areas 17,506

Rural areas 34,276

Total 51,782 

The Bharatiya Janata Party, which is ruling the state since 1998, is challenged by the opposition Indian National Congress and the Aam Aadmi Party.

Background :

The tenure of 14th Gujarat Legislative Assembly is scheduled to end on 18 February 2023. The previous assembly elections were held in December 2017. After the election, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) formed the state government, with Vijay Rupani becoming Chief Minister.

Vijay Rupani resigned from Chief Minister post on 11 September 2021 and he was succeeded by Bhupendra Patel as the new Chief Minister.

Since the last assembly elections, several bypolls were held, most of which were won by the BJP, taking their strength from 99 to 112 seats.

Local body elections

BJP swept the 2021 Gujarat local body elections by winning all corporation and district panchayats and Indian National Congress (Congress) gained majority in one municipality and 18 taluka panchayats. On one side BJP increased its strength and on the other side Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) made significant inroads to be considered as a contender in the state.

In 2017 Gujarat Legislative Assembly election, BJP was lost in some districts of Saurashtra due to farmer and Patidar agitation; notably in Amreli and Gir Somnath where it lost all seats to Congress. 

However, when panchayat elections were held in Amreli along with other districts, BJP gained a two thirds majority translating to a lead on all five assembly segments of Amreli, while AAP gaining in rural Gujarat indicated that Gujarat is heading towards a three cornered contest.

In the Gandhinagar Municipal Corporation elections, BJP got majority by winning 41 out of 44 wards while Congress got two seats. AAP won one seat and was the third largest party in terms of vote share, which indicated increasing acceptance of AAP as a third alternative. Congress dubbed the AAP as a 'B team' of the BJP for by dividing the anti-BJP votes, which ultimately favoured the BJP.

Issues -

Alcohol : Following the death of 50 people in 2022 Gujarat toxic liquor deaths, alcohol and drug consumption became an issue in the election. Congress demanded a probe by the sitting high court judge in the illegal liquor trade in Gujarat. Former Congress president Rahul Gandhi publicly asked which "ruling forces" are "giving protection to these mafia". AAP state president Gopal Italia had demanded an investigation by Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in the incident.

Drugs : In September 2021, 2,988.22 kilograms (6,587.9 lb) of heroin was seized from two containers which arrived at Mundra Port, from Bandar Abbas in Iran. Heroin was disguised as a consignment of semi-processed talc stones originating from Afghanistan. The incident occurred again in May and July 2022, where 52 kg and 75 kg of drugs were seized from the port respectively. Notably, the Mundra Port was owned by Narendra Modi's rally Gautam Adani, founder of the Adani Group. Congress again criticized the government asking why drugs were repeatedly found in the coastline of Gujarat. AAP also registered their protest on the issue of drug seizure.

Corruption : The written examination for recruitment of head clerks was held on 12 December 2021 in which with 88,000 aspirants had appeared for 186 vacancies. The exam was conducted by Gujarat Subordinate Service Selection Board (GSSSB). INC alleged that Asit Vora, a BJP leader served as the chairman of GSSSB is mastermind behind this. A total of 36 people from Gandhinagar, Ahmedabad, Sabarkantha were arrested in the case, including alleged mastermind Tushar Mer. AAP highlighted the rampant corruption leading to paper leaks for the examinations conducted by the state government being reported since 2015. Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal compared it with the Vyapam scam in Madhya Pradesh and called recruitment exams in Gujarat as Maha Vyapam Scam. AAP promised to create laws that would punish the paper leaking offence with ten years of punishment.

Agriculture : In March, thousands of farmers across Gujarat are protesting at their taluka and district headquarters demanding adequate power supply to save standing crops.

Unemployment : As per a survey conducted by FTFMI, Unemployment is the biggest issue for people in Gujarat. Unemployment has been steadily increasing in the state. As per the quarterly bulletin of the Periodic Labour Force Survey (PLFS), Gujarat had among the lowest rates of unemployment in urban areas. As per Periodic Labour Force Survey (PLFS) estimates - April–June 2022 bulletin, unemployment rate in Gujarat was 3.3%, lesser than the national average. There were four lakh unemployed people registered with state's Employment Exchange Department in March 2021, out of which 3,85,506 were literate and just five percent were semi-skilled.

Education : About 700 government schools in Gujarat function with only one teacher each. As many as 8,500 other primary schools have only two teachers each.

Price Rise : In April, the Congress held protests in several cities throughout Gujarat against rising fuel prices and inflation. In Amraiwadi, Congress workers brought empty LPG cylinders brought a hard paper cutout of a fuel dispenser during their protest against fuel and cooking gas prices. 

Campaigns -

Aam Aadmi Party, Gujarat started its election campaign for Gujarat on 2 April with a Padayatra. In May 2022, AAP declared its alliance with Bharatiya Tribal Party for the assembly elections. However, the alliance was called off in September 2022. On 2 August 2022, Kejriwal addressed a public rally in Veraval, Saurashtra and announced "guarantees." AAP has announced Rozgaar Guarantee Yatra in three districts of North Gujarat namely Patan, Sabarkantha and Banaskantha. The campaign would appeal to the unemployed youth. On 2 September Kejriwal announced five guarantees for farmers in Devbhumi Dwarka district.

Indian National Congress : Former Congress president Rahul Gandhi launched the party's campaign in Gujarat on 5 September 2022. On the same day, he visited the Ahmedabad and attended the "Parivartan Sankalp Sammelan" where he criticized the BJP government and promised free electricity, farm loan waiver up to ₹3 lakh, 10 lakh jobs, compensation to families affected by COVID-19 pandemic, LPG cylinder for ₹500, free education for girls, 3,000 new English medium schools and subsidy to dairy farmers. The Congress led a state-wide "bandh" on September 10 in Gujarat as a protest against price rise and unemployment. They led demonstrations in Bharuch and other parts of Gujarat as well regarding price rise and unemployment. On 22 September, the Congress launched the "Yuva Parivartan Yatra" (Youth for Change March) in Gujarat from Ambaji, which passed through several towns and cities across 27 districts of state. It was held in two stages from Ambaji to Umargam and Somanth to Suigam. The yatra travelled more than 2100 kilometres across the state. The Congress distributed door-to-door "Vachan Patras" or promise letters throughout the yatra, which contain 8 promises of the Congress and 4-point failures of the BJP government. It aims to deliver about 1.55 crore (15.5 million) of such promise letters before the elections. The first stage of the yatra moved throughout the tribal belt, where it focused especially on the tribal youth. The second stage of the yatra went through the Saurashtra-Kutch region. On 28 September, the Congress held a day-long yatra in Saurashtra, starting from Rajkot and concluding at Sidsar, Junagadh. The yatra was received by Patidar leader Naresh Patel at Ma Khodiyar Temple, who welcomed the rally with 500 vehicles at the temple in Rajkot. In recent months, many protests have been held in Gujarat, in which Congress backed the protesters. On 31 October. the Congress started the Parivartan Sankalp Yatra in Gujarat, which covered 5 zones of the state, each lead by senior leaders of the party, namely Ashok Gehlot, Bhupesh Baghel, Digvijay Singh, Kamal Nath, and Mukul Wasnik. These programs covered 175 out of the 182 assembly seats in Gujarat. The yatra included 145 public meetings and 95 rallies, with an aim to establish "direct contact" with 45 million (4.5 crore) people. More than 1 million (10 lakh) party workers were expected to join the yatra. It covered more than 5,400 kilometres over a week. On 6 November, the Congress released a 22 point "charge sheet" against the BJP-led state government of Gujarat. The last three decades of Gujarat have been marred by "continuous anti-people governance and mismanagement," the Congress said in the 'charge sheet'. Some highlighted points in the chargesheet were the recent Morbi bridge collapse, the release of the 11 convicted in the Bilkis Bano rape case. It also claimed that GDP rose 18-23% annually under the previous governments of the Congress, whereas the state recorded a GDP decline of 1.35% in 2020-21 under the BJP government. On 21 November, Rahul Gandhi addressed 2 rallies in Gujarat, in Surat and in Rajkot. In his speeches at the rallies he criticized the handling of the Morbi bridge collapse and claimed that the Gujarat government was trying to take away tribals' rights.

Bharatiya Janata Party : On 20 September, while flagging off e-bikes for Namo Kisan Panchayat programme in Gujarat, BJP National President J. P. Nadda listed out the welfare schemes for farmers rolled out by the Central government schemes. 12 Union ministers, including Smriti Irani, Kiren Rijiju, Giriraj Singh, and others, will start their poll campaign in Gujarat. Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi held roadshows in Surat and Bhavnagar on 29 September 2022. Gujarat Incumbent Bjp CM Bhupendra Patel along with PM Modi held a rally in Rajkot on 19 October 2022.

Parties and Alliances -

National Democratic Alliance : Bharatiya Janata Party total 182 seats contested with other political parties.

United Progressive Alliance : INC and NCP announced an alliance to contest the election together on 11 November 2022.

Aam Aadmi & Others Party : In May 2022, AAP announced alliance with Bharatiya Tribal Party for the election. However, the alliance was called off in September 2022.

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