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Published On:14 September 2012
Posted by Indian Muslim Observer

Gujarat Election: Nitish Kumar to question Narendra Modi’s Prime Ministerial ambitions on his home turf

By Abdul Hafiz Lakhani 

Ahmedabad: Carrying further its reservations over Narendra Modi, the JD-U, which runs a coalition with BJP in Bihar, has decided to contest assembly elections in Gujarat on its own which will be a great point on coming election in the state.

In Bihar, JD-U always get Muslim votes so its entery in the state will cause some harm to Congress who heavily banks on Traditional Muslim votes.BJP under Modi does not have much to loose. But Nitish will certainly question Modi's PMship ambition in election compaign.
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, whose antipathy to Modi is well known, will also campaign for the JD-U candidates in Gujarat, where elections are due this year end.

According to speculations, the party may field its candidates in around 100 seats. It had contested in 28 constituencies in 2007 and had won Jhagadia seat in Bharuch district where Chhotu Vasava, president of JD-U’s state unit won.We have many issues on which we will be contesting the next assembly polls.

At present, we have plan for at least 35 assembly seats and it may increase also,” said Chhotu Vasava, talking to this Correspondent over phone. “Issues of tribal rights, land and education apart from inflation and unemployment under Modi’s rule are important” Vasava said.

The party has planned to call a state body meet in next week in Ahmedabad. “We will decide our future strategy during state executive meeting to be held in Ahmedabad,” the MLA said. One being asked whether Nitish Kumar will campaign for the party in state, he said, “It will be decided later on.

He will come as it is necessary.”Meanwhile, party has already opened its state office on AshramRoad in city.

“We have already set up our organisation in the city up to ward level and thousand of workers will join our party.” said Jayanti Contractor, city president of JD (U).BJP general secretary Vijay Rupani refused to comment on the development. In 2007, the JD-U had contested on 28 seats while in 2002 they were in fray on 35 seats.

At that time, Chhotu Vasava and his son Mahesh had won the polls. At present, Bharuch Jilla Panchayat has more than six members and a couple of Taluka Panchayat’s from JDU. The party’s vice-president Govind Jadav said, “We have plans to contest on 100 assembly seats.
The sources are to be believed, Nitish's visit to Gujarat can be seen as an attempt to show his rift with Modi.The Bihar and Gujarat stalwarts have been involved in the battle of words over the Prime Ministerial candidate for 2014 Lok Sabha elections.

In a move that is part strategic and part compulsive, the Congress Party seems to have come around to the view that its high profile general secretary Rahul Gandhi, who is otherwise tipped for a bigger role in the party, should have a low-key role in the forthcoming Gujarat campaign.
On a day when the Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi kicked off his campaign for a record third term, virtually daring the Congress to join a no-holds barred battle, the party indicated that it would not like to provide an opportunity for the saffron strongman to engage it on his terms.

“The point is that he punches above his height. So, even when the election is for the Gujarat state assembly, instead of engaging on local issues, he tries to make it a Gandhinagar versus Delhi battle. We strongly feel that this is a state election and our Gujarat unit as well as whosoever is assigned the responsibility are adequate enough for this job,” said party spokesperson Manish Tiwari.

The party also seems to have become wiser after the Uttar Pradesh experience, where Rahul not only ran a high decible campaign but also played a major role in hand-picking the candidates with disastrous results. After the defeat, he did own up to the responsibility for the rout, but has since then moderated his public exposure.

“When he is preparing for a larger national role, there is no point in his getting involved in state level battles,” said a senior party general secretary.

So, Rahul will make occasional forays in Gujarat, but will avoid the intensive and extensive campaign that was seen in UP and refrain from transforming it into a Rahul versus Modi contest.

However, the Congress also accepts that it lacks a leader of stature in Gujarat who can pose a serious challenge to Modi’s larger-than-life persona. “We have to do with the available human material,” quipped a senior party MP, but then it has a compulsion to avoid a Modi versus Rahul contest on Modi’s turf, as this would be an unequal contest and an unfavourable outcome (that is predicted by most analysts) would virtually foreclose Rahul’s prime ministerial options in the 2014 general elections.

[Abdul Hafiz Lakhani is a senior Journalist based at Ahmedabad, Gujarat. He is associated with IndianMuslimObserver.com as Bureau Chief (Gujarat). He can be reached at lakhani63@yahoo.com or on his cell 09228746770]

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