Faced with growing anger on multiple fronts and lack of response to its elections rallies, the BJP has reportedly decided to project Manshuk Mandaviya as its chief ministerial candidate in the ongoing Gujarat assembly polls.
Mandaviya is currently the MoS for transport and shipping in the ventral government.
The party had earlier decided to contest the assembly polls under the incumbent chief minister, Vijay Rupani’s leadership. Speaking to reporters in May, BJP’s national president, Amit Shah had said that Rupani will be his party’s chief ministerial face in the Assembly polls.
The reported change in the party’s face for the assembly polls stem from a series of setbacks during the ongoing campaign.
One local BJP leader in Anand told Janta Ka Reporter, “Rupani was always Amit Shah’s man. But recent setbacks during some of the key election rallies have angered the prime minister, who appears to have taken control of the situation now.”
Prime Minister Narendra Modi was visibly upset after Shah failed to deliver on his promise to gather seven lakh audience for his rally on 16 October. What was billed as a huge show of strength for the BJP had turned out to be a disappointing exercise as the venue for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s mega rally in Ahmedabad remained empty and people were seen leaving even as he spoke.(WATCH VIDEO HERE)
Shah, according to his party colleagues in Gujarat, had decided to replicate the strategy of how he orchestrated the party’s historic win in Uttar Pradesh by launching Panna Pramukh strategy.
“Here too Amit Shah appointed over 8 lakh Panna Pramukhs to manage 4.33 crore voters. Our plan was to at least gather all those Panna Pramukhs for the prime minister’s rally in Ahmedabad last month. But, the number of people, who turned up for the rally was little over 1 lakh. The video of people leaving the rally venue during the prime minister’s speech was even worse,” said the BJP leader in Anand, himself a Panna Pramukh in Anand.
Curiously Anand was where Amit Shah had to face angry protests last month. Reminiscent of last year’s angry protests, the BJP president had to face a massive protest by angry Patidars even as he tried to address a gathering in Anand.
Then there other events where Patidars disrupted press conferences of Rupani and his deputy Nitin Patel.
Mandaviya is believed to be a personal choice of Modi, who has reportedly taken control of key decisions related to Gujarat elections. Losing Gujarat, where the party has governed for 22 years, is not an option for him since a defeat here may significantly hamper his poll prospects for 2019 Lok Sabha polls.
However, a resurgent Congress says the choice of Mandaviya smacks of the BJP’s acknowledgement that ‘all is not well for the party in Gujarat.’
Speaking to Janta Ka Reporter, Paresh Dhanani, an AICC secretary, said, “First they tried to sell brand Modi. When there were no takers for that, they tried to sell brand Yogi. But even that fizzled out. Then they tried to fight elections under Rupani, who was projected by none other than the head of India’s missed call party, Amit Shah. But Gujarati people have rejected all their gimmicks. That’s because people in Gujarat are very angry. Their voices have long been suppressed.”
Hinting at the anger among Patidars, Dhanani said that the BJP had ill-treated a community, which created the saffron party with its money, time and sweat.
He added, “Who can forget how 14 Patidars were martyred in police firing in 2015? Their mothers, sisters and daughters were assaulted by the police at the behest of the BJP government. Not one party leader or a minister went to utter a single word of sympathy to them.The community has seen the true face of the BJP. ”
The BJP is hoping that Mandaviya may be able to sway the angry Patidar voters in favour of the BJP in the December elections. Gujarat goes to polls in two stages on 9 and 14 December. The counting will take place on 18 December.