The people of Gujarat expect a lot from Arvind Kejriwal and this will propel Aam Aadmi party to victory in the state, party leader Gopal Italia told NDTV today. The head of the AAP’s state unit, Mr Italia, is focusing on the Surat region – a BJP-dominated area where diamond dealers and the Patidar community dominate.
In 2017, the BJP posted its worst performance in Gujarat, which it has ruled since 1995. The party won 98 seats, 21 more than Congress.
In this victory, the southern districts of Gujarat – with Surat at its center – had a significant contribution. The party won 14 out of 16 assembly seats in Surat region, two seats from the predominantly tribal areas went to Congress.
This time, AAP, which is pulling out all the stops in the battle for Gujarat, has put a special focus on South Gujarat. Mr. Italia, the leader of the contested state party of Surat.
The AAP is already seen as having a strong presence in the BJP-dominated diamond hub, with support from the politically significant Patidar community. A triangular competition is expected on six seats in the region.
Going door to door, Mr Italia, in an exclusive interview, told NDTV that he was confident that the people of Gujarat would opt for the PAA this time.
Asked why he thought Surat would change his mind, Mr Italia said: ‘Obviously a party will have expectations in elections and seek door-to-door votes.’
“But this time, it is the people who are waiting for Arvind Kejriwal. We have confidence in this expectation. The people will vote this time on the broom (symbol of the AAP election),” he added.
In 2017, AAP failed to open their account on their first try in the state. This time, with Delhi and Punjab under its belt, the AAP emerged as the main contender against the BJP, pushing Congress to the sidelines.
Asked about allegations that the AAP would only eat away at Congress votes, giving the BJP an edge, Mr Italia said Congress was “finished” in Gujarat.
“After the last election, some Congress leaders went to BJP. This time, some switched to BJP before the election. Still others will switch sides after the election. Congress can’t do anything, so why would anyone vote for him?” he said.
Gujarat is one of the few states where Congress enjoys considerable ground-level support. By 2017, the party had seen a surge, winning 77 of the state’s 181 seats. He had increased the tally from the 60 seats he won in 2012.
Elections are due to be held in the state on December 1 and 5. The counting of votes will take place on December 8.