PM Modi on 2-Day Tour to Gujarat as BJP Finds Itself in Sticky Wicket Amid Farmer Protests
PM Modi has been extensively campaigning in the rural constituencies in Gujarat. On Wednesday, he is scheduled to address public rallies in Sabarkantha and Anand constituencies. On Thursday, Modi will campaign at Amreli.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi addresses a rally ahead of Lok Sabha elections. (PTI Photo)
Ahmedabad: Hours before Prime Minister Narendra Modi embarked on his two-day Gujarat tour on Wednesday, he drew severe flak from the opposition for announcing an ex-gratia amount for victims of unseasonal rainfall in Gujarat alone, while leaving out the other affected states, especially Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Manipur.
On Tuesday, the PMO had announced the ex gratia amount of Rs 2 lakh each for those killed in Gujarat even before the state government offered any relief for the victims. Later, during a poll campaign, Chief Minister Vijay Rupani made the announced the relief amount for the victims and called for a survey of damage to crops.
Nath reacted to this and said that despite people being killed due to inclement weather in other states as well, the PM had only shown concern for Gujarat.
“Modiji, you are the prime minister of the country and not Gujarat. At least 10 people have been killed in MP also. But your sensitivity is limited to Gujarat only,” Nath wrote in a tweet. “Though BJP is not the ruling party here, people do live here too,” he wrote further.
The unseasonal rainfall took the lives of nine people when gusty winds and thunderstorm hit parts of Gujarat. Political observers feel that the unseasonal rains have added ‘salt to the injuries’ of the distressed farmers in rural parts of Gujarat where the BJP is facing a ‘sticky wicket’ on many seats.
PM Modi has been extensively campaigning in the rural constituencies in Gujarat. On Wednesday, he is scheduled to address public rallies in Himmatnagar (Sabarkantha LS Constituency), Surendranagar and Vallabh Vidhyanagar (in Anand LS Constituency). On Thursday, Modi will campaign at Amreli Lok Sabha constituency.
A look at the four Lok Sabha constituencies where Modi will campaign
In North Gujarat’s Sabarkantha Lok Sabha constituency, BJP has repeated its sitting MP Dipsinh Rathod while the Congress has fielded its MLA Rajendra Thakor. This seat is dominated by the Thakors, Patels, Kshatriya and Tribals.
In 2017 Assembly polls, out of the total seven assembly seats which fall under Sabarkantha, the Congress had won four while the BJP grabbed three seats. However, this seat seems evenly ‘poised’ this time.
The BJP has fielded political greenhorn Dr Mahendra Munjpara against Congress’ Soma Patel in Surendranagar Lok Sabha constituency. Surendranagar is dominated by the Kolis, Dalits and Kshatriyas. Last time, out of the seven assembly seats, BJP had won only one while the Congress had won the remaining six.
Just before the Lok Sabha elections, Dhrangdhra Congress MLA Parshottam Sabariya had defected to the BJP and is now the candidate for assembly by-poll from his assembly constituency. Sabariya belongs to the numerically powerful Koli community.
In Anand Lok Sabha seat, Congress has fielded Bharatsinh Solanki, son of former Chief Minister Madhavsinh Solanki and former Gujarat Pradesh Congress Committee. Solanki had won the Lok Sabha elections from Anand in 2004 and 2009.
Solanki has also been a former minister of state for drinking water and sanitation in the Manmohan Singh government. He had lost 2014 polls to the BJP's Dilip Patel with a margin of 63,426 votes. However, after the Lok Sabha elections in 2014, the scenario changed in Gujarat and the Congress regained its base in the rural heartlands. The Anand seat consists of seven assembly constituencies. In 2017, the Congress had won in five assembly seats, while the BJP secured two wins.
On Thursday, PM Modi will address a public rally in Amreli Lok Sabha seat as part of his two-day tour. Amreli will witness a battle between the Congress’ Paresh Dhanani and the BJP’s sitting MP Naran Kachadiya. Dhanani is a close aide of Congress President Rahul Gandhi. In 2017, out of the seven assembly seats, the Congress had won five assembly seats while the BJP won just two seats.
It must be noted that since 2012, as many as 34 Congress leaders, mostly MLAs and MPs, have switched sides from the Congress to the BJP and most of them were from the rural assembly constituencies.
Earlier, Congress MLAs Jawahar Chavda (Manavadar), Parshottam Sabariya (Dhrangdhra), Vallabh Dharaviya (Jamnagar Rural) and Ashaben Patel (Unjha) have switched to BJP. Jawahar Chavda, Parshottam Sabariya and Ashaben Patel are now contesting assembly by-polls on BJP Tickets in their respective constituencies. In Jamnagar Rural assembly seats, BJP has fielded Raghavji Patel.
Earlier, on April 10, Modi had addressed two public rallies - one in Junagadh in Saurashtra region and one in Songadh in South Gujarat. The BJP had lost all seven seats to the Congress in Junagadh. This time, the BJP has repeated its sitting MP Rajesh Chudasama against the Congress' Punja Vansh in Junagadh LS seat.
Now, whether the farmers’ protests in Saurashtra and North Gujarat over the issues of crop-insurance, water for irrigation and support price, will have any impact on the BJP’s prospects of winning can only be learnt only on May 23.
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