AAP, AIMIM and SDPI Turn Local Polls in BJP-Ruled Gujarat into a Cliff-Hanger

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AAP is the first party to release the list of its 504 candidates with more names to be announced soon.

Six municipal corporations, 55 municipalities, 31 district panchayats and 231 taluka panchayats are going to polls next month

Mahesh Trivedi | Clarion India

AHMEDABAD — The upcoming elections to the 323 local self-government institutions in Gujarat promise to be a cliff-hanger with several big and small parties throwing their hats into the ring for the first time in the provincial polls in the bipolar state dominated by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Congress for decades.

With six municipal corporations, 55 municipalities, 31 district panchayats and 231 taluka panchayats going to polls next month in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s BJP-ruled home state, the Aam Aadmi party (AAP), the All-India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM), the Bharatiya Tribal Party (BTP), the Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI), the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and the Bahujan Mukti Party (BMP) have swung into action to woo the 30-million-odd voters.

AAP, which has already appointed presidents in various districts and municipal corporations in the state, sprang a surprise on Sunday by being the first party to release the list of its 504 candidates with more names to be announced soon.

Atishi Singh, AAP’s national spokesperson, who was here to make the announcement and meet ticket aspirants, told Clarion India that politics made strange bedfellows and BJP and the Congress were always hand-in-glove with each other during local elections.

“Hence, AAP will present itself as an alternative as people of Gujarat want a change,” said the Delhi legislator, and added that her party would also contest the assembly polls due in 2022.

She said that BJP and the Congress declared their candidates at the eleventh hour but AAP had announced the names 45 days early to allow voters to study the concerned candidates and take an informed decision before exercising their franchise.

Egged on by its spectacular performance in the recent Bihar assembly elections, Asaduddin Owaisi’s AIMIM has decided to fight the local polls in alliance with the Bharatiya Tribal Party (BTP) which has two legislators in the 182-member assembly. Party leaders, who have been travelling in the state to chalk out a strategy for municipal and panchayat polls, presided over a public meeting in the diamond city of Surat.

Imtiaz Jaleel, AIMIM’s Aurangabad Lok Sabha MP and head of the party’s Maharashtra unit, specially came to Bharuch in south Gujarat on Saturday to meet BTP chief Chhotu Vasava at his residence. He tweeted that since AIMIM and BTP shared same ideology on the Constitution being supreme, the two parties had come together to create a new political power in the state which had six million Muslims.

SDPI, political outfit of the Popular Front of India, which had set up a base in Gujarat in 2018, has of late been rendezvousing with leaders of the BSP and BMP to contest the local polls on a single platform. Gujarat SDPI secretary Ikramuddin Shaikh had recently accused the police of harassing party leaders in the name of surveillance.

Senior Congress leader Arjun Modhwadia told Clarion India that in the local bodies or the assembly in Gujarat, only the Congress and BJP ruled the roost and all attempts to form a third alternative had always fallen flat in the past.

“Both AAP and AIMIM are B teams of the ruling BJP which is fast losing popularity and hence the saffron party has invited the two parties to enter the local poll arena and divide the Congress votes,” said Modhwadia, former leader of the Opposition in the legislative assembly.

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