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23 Apr 2024, Edition - 3206, Tuesday

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India News

Congress set for Gujarat battle with Alpesh, Mevani and Hardik as charioteers



Congress party aims to wrest power from BJP in Gujarat by pitting three youth leaders- Alpesh Thakor, Jignesh Mevani and Hardik Patel against the high saffron tide.

Sweta Dutta | Posted by Ashna Kumar

In the absence of some strong chief ministerial candidate in the poll-bound Gujarat, the Congress party’s campaign revolves much around the three youth leaders – Alpesh Thakor, Jignesh Mevani and Hardik Patel – giving the party’s hopes and hustings a new fillip.
Turning the BJP’ s strategy of pitting Prime Minister Narendra Modi against Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi on its head, the poll battle is now being projected as Modi versus the troika.

Following weeks of hectic parleys, the Congress managed to rope in Thakor, a popular OBC leader, as a member of the party while Dalit leader Mevani has extended support to it in a bid to defeat the BJP. Patel, who had initially warmed up to Rahul Gandhi and has had fruitful talks with the local leadership in the past few weeks, has imposed a November-3 deadline on the party to announce its reservation plan for the agitating Patidars.

“The three young leaders represent the anger of society at the failure of the BJP government. “Apart from Alpesh Thakor, the other two have not joined the party and hence there is no question of any of them being a face of the party,” said Rohan Gupta, senior leader and Gujarat IT Cell chief. “While the Congress party’s main campaign continues to be Navsarjan Gujarat, which has Rahul Gandhi, the Pradesh Congress Committee chief and the Congress Legislature Party leader at the helm of affairs, the three youth leaders are mobilising not just the electorate from their respective communities but every other section of society that feels cheated by the BJP government,” Gupta also said.


“They have been talking not just about reservation and it is not that Congress is promising them only caste-based reservation. “There are a host of other issues like prohibition, women safety, unemployment, GST, demonetisation. Alpesh, for example, has been demanding 85 per cent employment for Gujaratis. “Individually they might represent a particular caste but collectively they stand against the oppressive BJP government,” Gupta added.

“The rise of these three youth leaders shows that the development claims of the BJP are not true.” Asked why the campaign on the ground and on social media now pits the three leaders against Modi instead of CM Vijay Rupani, Gupta maintained, “Rupani is just a rubber stamp. If the elections are fought on him and his work, they will not get a single vote. “Modi has 52 sabhas slated in the state. Why does he have to call a worker in Vadodara? For everything, he tries to strike an emotional chord. There are no answers to practical questions.”

A beleaguered Congress following a recent mass exodus of sitting legislators led by former chief minister Shankersinh Vaghela, has its fingers crossed hoping to keep the flock together. “The Congress is all set to record a clean sweep in the elections. There is a strong undercurrent and we just have to sustain it from now till the polling. “The BJP might be making all their efforts to use money and muscle power but the solid support of the youngsters remains with us. The three youth leaders have made it a youth movement and they are not the ones to back track. “Older people tend to come under pressure but the youngsters remain unmoved by any temptations,” Gujarat Pradesh Congress Committee president Bharatsinh Solanki told Mail Today.

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