Amit Shah was felicitated by party workers at the Sabarmati riverfront in Ahmedabad.
BJP chief Amit Shah put a lid on speculation that the party could opt for early elections in Gujarat when he said today that Prime Minister Narendra Modi's "victory chariot" will roll into his home state in November. Assembly elections are due in the state only in November end, but there has been buzz that the ruling BJP could call early elections to cash in on a surge in popularity evidenced by party's massive victory in Uttar Pradesh.
Mr Shah, who too is from Gujarat and is visiting the state for the first time after the party's success this month in assembly elections, was being felicitated by party workers at the Sabarmati riverfront in Ahmedabad when he said, "Narendra bhai
's vijay rath
, after traversing through the country will move into the state in November. Are you ready to give it a rousing welcome and work towards the party's success?"
The BJP has ruled Gujarat for the last two decades including 13 years when PM Modi was Chief Minister, but the state has been cause for worry for the party recently because of big agitations by the powerful Patel community and by Dalits. It also fears an anti-incumbency sentiment in the state since PM Modi moved to the centre three years ago and many see wisdom in calling early elections.
Chief Minister Vijay Rupani did not rule it out earlier this week, only saying that the party's central leadership would take a final decision. "I would like to say that the state BJP is ready for polls, if they are held earlier or even if they are held on schedule," he said
The BJP has installed governments in four of the five states where elections have held so far this year. Mr Shah said after winning Gujarat, the party would focus on forming government in Odisha, where elections will be held in 2019.
The BJP chief confirmed that the party's win in UP will be a big theme in its campaign for Gujarat when he said, "We had taken a vow on the banks of the Ganga that we will cross the 300 seat target in UP and now on the banks of the Sabarmati, we are repeating the vow that we will win 150 plus seats in Gujarat."
The party has identified UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath as a star campaigner in Gujarat apart from PM Modi and Mr Shah.
The BJP chief dismissed chief rival in Gujarat, the Congress, and also Arvind Kejriwal's Aam Aadmi Party as non-starters. The Congress' "dream" to wrest Gujarat from the BJP would remain just that, he said.
AAP makes its debut in Gujarat in this year's assembly election. The party, which had swept Delhi two years ago, had hoped to add Punjab and Goa to its kitty in this year's assembly election, but failed to make a mark in either state. "During elections AAP emerges like mushrooms, only to fade away,'' observed Amit Shah.