Will Congress be dented by AAP’s growing presence in Gujarat?

This time there will be a triangular contest on many seats in the Gujarat assembly elections. After almost three decades a third force is emerging in the state with good numbers. But even after the Aam Aadmi Party’s (AAP) entry into the state politics, there will be a straight fight between the Congress and the BJP on a majority of the seats, say political analysts.

The Gujarat Assembly has 182 seats and the elections are scheduled this December.

The last successful alliance was of the Janata Dal and the BJP, who formed the government in 1990 for a very short period.

This time the AAP will be able to put up a big show, its presence in the elections is visible six months prior to the polls, its social media campaign is very effective in building the party’s image among the masses, yet it can at the most make it to double digits. It is not likely to be a threat either to the Congress or the BJP, is the reading of political analyst Hari Desai.

An early assumption was that the AAP will sabotage the prospects of the Congress, but the way free electricity and a stipend to the youths has been promised by the AAP it can influence the urban voters. If that happens it will hurt the BJP, thinks Desai.

In Gujarat, neither of the two national parties, the BJP and the Congress, seem to be in any mood to ally with any other national or regional party. The BTP has already hinted at allying with the AAP. There is no question of the AIMIM allying with any other party, so there will not be a serious pre-poll alliance this time.

Political analyst Dilip Gohil thinks there will be triangular contests, but not on all seats. It will depend on how many serious and influential candidates are fielded by the AAP. Recently the AAP declared the names of 10 candidates, out which only three candidates can likely give a fight to the BJP or Congress candidates, the rest are completely new faces, he says.

Gohil says the BJP has started taking the AAP as a serious threat and if the AAP’s freebies promises work, it can prove a big challenge to both the national parties.

The election commission’s data shows that a third party presence in the elections has always dented the Congress vote bank. In 2012 the Gujarat Parivartan Party led by former chief minister late Keshubhai Patel sabotaged the BJP in eight seats and the Congress in five seats.

In the 2017 assembly elections the BSP and the NCP wanted to ally with the Congress, but their seat sharing expectations were too high. The BSP had demanded 25 seats and the NCP had asked for six seats, to which the Congress did not agree. The BSP contested on 138 seats, and the NCP on 57 seats, damaging the Congress candidates’ prospects. The BSP could not win a single seat, whereas the NCP could win only one seat. but both together damaged 12 seats, where the Congress candidates lost with thin margins, shows the EC data.

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