Skip to main content

Congress presence in Gujarat's urban areas remains in margins, as Rahul "pulls" huge crowd in rural, semi-urban areas

Crowd in Petlad, Central Gujarat, on Rahul Gandhi's visit
By Rajiv Shah
Even as Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi this week completed the second leg of his whirlwind visit to Gujarat ahead of the state assembly polls, to be held in December, all eyes are set on whether the party, which got 38.9% votes in the 2012 polls as against the BJP’s 47.9%, would be able win over the huge crowds Gujarat's Congress leaders had mobilized for him.
Despite Congress being upbeat, as seen in their postings on the social media, especially the photographs of Gandhi amidst thousands of people on streets, and on atop two sides of buildings, senior party leaders doubt that the "tide" would, if at all, turn for the Congress.
The reason, they opine, is simple: Despite discontentment among city middle classes, traders and small entrepreneurs, who have been the BJP's traditional base, the Congress' presence in the urban areas remains in the margins.
In fact, a senior Congress leader, who is also a Rajya Sabha MP, and is said to be close to party chief Sonia Gandhi, has been going around posing a straight question to those very close to him and claiming Congress would win this year's polls: "Tell me where is Congress in urban areas?"
The Congress leader, who was in the past the main brain behind the party's campaign for forest land rights in Gujarat's eastern belt, has been quoted as saying that the 182 seats of the Gujarat state assembly could be divided into three parts. "One third these of the seats, about 60, are in the urban areas. Almost all of them would go to the BJP."
"Of rest of the about 120, one had divide them 50-50 between the Congress and the BJP", this leader was quoted as saying to a veteran senior activist who had close links with a section of Congress leaders. "I expect the Congress to get one third of the assembly seats, around 60, not beyond, unless some miracle happens", he added. Interesting though it may seem, this leader said the same thing in 2012 Gujarat state assembly elections (click HERE).
In 2012, talking with this correspondent, the Congress leader had underlined, “There is no strategy focused on the urban poor. If you do not take up the problems the urban poor face, be it housing, wages, basic infrastructure facilities like bijli, sadak, pani, who would back you?”
Massive crowd at Rahul Gandhi's Navsarjan Yatra
Not without reason, Gandhi’s focus during his two-leg pre-poll visit late last month and early this month, was to "consolidate" Congress' rural and semi-urban, including tribal, base. While he did visit Jamnagar and Rajkot, two major urban centres of Saurashtra region, he avoided public meetings with middle classes in any of the top cities, including Ahmedabad, Surat and Vadodara.
Indeed, the view is strong even among independent observers, wanting the Congress to win, that Gujarat leaders' comfort level remains high, despite the fighting spirit it displayed during Ahmed Patel’s Rajya Sabha elections. "They don't know what's happening on the ground. The BJP has launched an all-out offensive to neutralize the discontentment", a grassroots worker said.
"Strange things are happening. I saw ONGC virtually distributing scholarships among Gujarat Dalits without any advertisement. And, even those farmers whose crops were not destroyed due to natural calamity are getting insurance money to the tune of Rs 10,000 deposited in their banks", this social worker added.
Significantly, these sops are over and above those officially declared to appease the urban middle classes, including traders and small manufacturers, who were showing huge signs of being restive, holding massive demonstrations in Surat and Ahmedabad.
Following the Government of India announcing to cut excise duty on petrol and diesel by Rs 2 per litre on October 4, the Gujarat government followed suit reducing value added tax (VAT) on petrol and diesel by 4%, bring down their prices by Rs2.93 and Rs2.72 a litre respectively from Wednesday. Gujarat levied 28.96% VAT on petrol and diesel prior to the tax cut.
This was followed by decline in goods and services tax (GST) on several of the items which are manufactured in Gujarat, including khakra, unbranded namkeen (5%), unbranded ayurvedic medicines, manmade yarn (12%), marble and granite, diesel engine parts, and pumps parts.
This was followed a new textiles and apparel policy, providing incentives for garment unit owners for “generating” employment by providing subsidy in wages to the tune Rs 4,000 per woman worker, and Rs 3,500 per male worker. The policy also provided interest subsidy, exemption in stamp duty and partial relief in electricity duty.

Comments

Sagar Rabari said…
Good assessment, BJP is working overtime while Congress ???
Ankit said…
Bribing people and offering sops is all they are doing, not work.

ALSO READ

India failing to dictate diplomatic preferences of Nepal, Bhutan, is unfairly blaming Beijing: Chinese daily

By Our Representative
In a sharply-worded editorial, a top Chinese media outfit, described by BBC as state-run, has said, commenting on India's foreign relations with its neighbours, that "speculation and suspicion" is "certainly not diplomacy". Published in "China Daily", the largest circulating English Monday-to-Saturday newspaper with branches across the world, the editorial notes (September 20) that "several recent events" in Nepal and Bhutan, are "gnawing worrywarts in New Delhi".
The editorial -- which comes close on the heels of a sharp critique of India's foreign policy in a state-supported Russian media outfit, Sputnik International, calling India's anti-Pak diplomacy as having "gone awry" following Prime Minister Narendra Modi's "half-baked" push for anti-terror drill down "others' throat" -- says, the " worrywarts" include "Nepalese troops taking part in a joint…

Accused of being RSS plant, Modi man, Hyderabad Urdu varsity chancellor asks President to probe "irregularities"

Counterview Desk
Refused entry in the Maulana Azad National Urdu University (MANUU), the central university's newly appointed chancellor Firoz Bakht Ahmed, who claims to be grand nephew of Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, has, in a letter to the President of India, said that MANUU vice-chancellor (V-C) Dr Aslam Parvaiz has accused him of being an RSS plant and a Modi man, whose sole aim is to "interfere in the working of the university".

Ahmedabad, GIFT, Adani city get 1.68 lakh acre ft Narmada water; Gujarat's rural areas just 4.27 AF: Letter to CM

Counterview Desk
Well-known farmer rights leader Sagar Rabari, in an open letter to Gujarat chief minister Vijay Rupani, has demanded a transparent account of Narmada water, saying, while he has received a "routine reply" from him to his earlier, the data emerging from his RTI application show huge quantity of water being directed to Ahmedabad, the 10 km stretch of Sabarmati for the Ahmedabad riverfront, and nearby elite urban areas, including the Adanis' Shantigram township and GIFT City.

17 lakh Jharkhand elderly, widows, differently abled do not receive pension: Public hearing told, aadhaar is a hurdle

By Our Representative
Hundreds of elderly, widows, single women and differently-abled persons from different districts of Jharkhand gathered near the Raj Bhavan in Ranchi for a public hearing organized by the Jharkhand Right to Food Campaign and Pension Parishad demanding the right to universal social security pensions ahead of World Elderly Day on October 1.

Ethnocide in Caribbean island filmed following award winning docufilm on Jamaica's anti-colonial Indian roots

International awards winner for Best Feature Documentary Linda Aïnouche for “Dreadlocks Story” (2014), which shows how Indians are entangled in the Jamaican society, and how Hinduism was a source of inspiration for the Rastafari movement, is all set to release her new documentary, “Marooned in the Caribbean”, which aims at documenting the awful desolating living conditions that Raizal people, the native inhabitants of San Andres Archipelago, endure.
Sons of slaves, these islanders have fallen prey to what the Colombian government calls Colombianization. “It’s a process”, according to her, “which kills the Raizal culture; it’s the killing of the Raizal soul. Colombianization subjugates Afro-descendants of San Andres to an ethnocide.”

Explorer, director and producer, Linda Aïnouche writes exclusively for Counterview: ***
Nobody escapes from blood and thunder in Colombia, and definitely not in the archipelago of San Andres, situated closer to Managua and Kingston than Bogota. The Raizal p…

India to deport Rohingya refugees, as the world moves towards prosecuting Myanmar for genocide

By Tapan Bose*
Seven Rohingya Muslims refugees who were held at a detention centre in Assam since 2012 will be handed over to Myanmar. The Supreme Court of India has refused to stop their deportation. The new Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gagoi said, "We are not inclined to interfere on the decision taken".

An elite Kutir set up by Modi far from the "madding" crowd: This Gandhi museum is formal, unapproachable

By Rajiv Shah
Have you ever heard of a Gandhi museum, sough to be projected as the “largest” on the Mahatma, yet totally inaccessible, in sharp contrast to Ahmedabad’s humble, approachable and unassuming Gandhi Ashram on the banks of Sabarmati, set up by the Mahatma during the heydays of the freedom movement? It exists about 30 kilometres away, its idea was conceived by none other than a person who has today become even more inaccessible than he ever was: Narendra Modi, India's Prime Minister.

History less known: Kasturba's role as an independent woman and a freedom fighter in her own right

By Nandini Oza*
Even the most deserving of women do not find a place that equals their worth in history. Kasturba is one such woman whose contribution to India’s struggle for freedom has been exemplary, and yet, it has not received the recognition it deserves. Kastur Makhanji Kapadia was born in the year 1869, the same year and in the same town of Porbandar in Gujarat as Gandhiji. In fact she was older than Gandhiji by a few months.

Hyderabad-based Urdu university "bars" entry of its new chancellor, who had "initiated" reforms in institute

Counterview Desk
In an unusual controversy, Aslam Parvaiz, vice-chancellor of of the Hyderabad-based Maulana Azad National Urdu University (MANUU) has restricted the entry of its newly appointed Chancellor, Firoz Bakht Ahmed, allegedly because he was trying to initiate reforms, including setting up of a Maulana Azad Center for Composite Culture and Progressive Studies, Model Madrasa, Center for Empowerment of Muslim Women, Course for the Development of Legal Vocabulary and Legal Consciousness in Urdu, and so on.

Poor response to tenders for Gujarat's bid for the world's tallest statue, no international firm shows interest

By Our Representative
The Gujarat government’s claim that its decision to build the world’s highest statue in the world, in the memory of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, would attract “tremendous” response top international construction companies, has gone phut. The state government floated international tenders in August to build the statue, which is slated to be 182-metres high. Despite the “international” character of the tenders and big claims, well-informed Sachivalaya sources close to Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi say, “not one international firm has come up to offer to carry out the construction activity.”