- Gujarat assembly election to be held by December
- BJP seeking fifth consecutive term
- Yogi Adityanath will be a top campaigner, says party
"Yogi ji's work as Chief Minister is being discussed and appreciated not just at the national level but even at the international level. So, his coming to Gujarat for campaigning will definitely help the BJP," he professed. Since taking office, Yogi Adityanath has operated in top gear, implementing major policies important to the BJP even though the new cabinet has yet to meet. The police is patrolling public spaces to protect women as part of the Yogi's commitment to urgently correcting Uttar Pradesh's depraved lawlessness; slaughterhouses are being checked and sealed for violating laws, a move that critics say targets Muslims who run most abattoirs.
The Chief Minister's surprise check at a police station in the heart of Lucknow and along the banks of the River Gomti to ensure the newly-developed area is pristine, his visit to a gang-rape survivor in hospital, his announcement that his administration will favour no caste or religion, have all given him prime positioning in the news cycle. The BJP in Gujarat says that because of its size and political vitality, UP and its Chief Minister will influence voters heavily in the coastal state too.
However, the party was quick to stress that nothing competes with the star power of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. "Ever since Narendra Modi became Prime Minister, it has been a matter of pride for people in Gujarat and for us... the Modi wave itself is enough," said Mr Pandya, referring to the pole position of the PM in his party's sweeping victory in Uttar Pradesh.
The BJP has governed the PM's home state of Gujarat since 1998; it is seeking a fifth consecutive term. The party has deployed the slogan "UP mein 325, Gujarat mein 150" (325 seats in UP, 150 in Gujarat) to indicate it wants to win the upcoming election with the sort of record margin it accrued in India's most-populous state.
The opposition Congress claims that the BJP's invite to the Yogi signals its plan to polarise voters by religion. Party spokesperson Himanshu Patel claimed that the plan will not succeed and that the BJP will stumble over its conflict with former supporters the Patels, who have turned on the party for not being included in affirmative action policies, and over its inability to prevent attacks on Dalits in Gujarat.
Over the weekend, a riot in the Patan district of Gujarat killed one person and injured 14 others after a fight erupted between Muslim and Hindu school students.