All eyes are on Gujarat as the results of the high-decibel state Assembly elections will be declared Thursday. The counting of votes is all set to begin Thursday morning in 37 counting centres set up across the state. Voting for the 182 constituencies of the Assembly was conducted in two phases on December 1 and 5.
A day before the results, with leaders expressing confidence in the party’s victory, preparations to celebrate the win were underway at Shree Kamalam—the state headquarters of the BJP in Gandhinagar. A decorative gate was being installed at the entrance of Kamalam, in addition to various teams setting up big LED screens for workers to view the election results Thursday.
“We are confident of winning the election. We are not doing any special arrangements for tomorrow but the gate is being set up and LED screens are being installed. The party office is also getting cleaned up as party workers will come to the office (in large numbers),” said party spokesperson Yamal Vyas.
A party office bearer said the BJP does not make other arrangements such as buying sweets and fire crackers as those were being done by the workers on their own.
For opposition Congress, several rounds of meetings marked the day ahead of the counting at Rajiv Gandhi Bhavan—its state headquarters in Ahmedabad. While Gujarat Pradesh Congress Committee (GPCC) president Jagdish Thakor chaired the online meetings with the candidates and district presidents in the morning. This was followed by a meeting with the senior leaders at the headquarters.
AICC incharge of Gujarat, Raghu Sharma, Wednesday evening chaired a meeting at Rajiv Gandhi Bhavan with Thakor, senior leaders and a few candidates to discuss arrangements and precautions for counting.
“Discussions on the voting outcome and what all needs to be taken care of during the counting were held for the counting agents to candidates and senior leaders. They were alerted on even small issues like ensuring EVM counts are registered and uploaded correctly on the computer system as irregularities were reported in the past at the Dholka assembly election and Amraiwadi by-election. Also, whether EVMs were sealed and properly signed, counting of postal ballots first followed by EVMs were also shared among everyone during meetings,” spokesperson Manish Doshi said, adding that everyone has been alerted to inform the GPCC team in case any incident comes to their notice at any place.
A two-page written instructions for counting were also distributed to Congress candidates and leaders.
Meanwhile, a day before the Gujarat results, various offices of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) across the state, including its Ahmedabad office, did not shy away from celebrating the party’s win in the Delhi MCD polls.
The party also took to similar celebrations at its Surat office, with state president Gopal Italia celebrating with party workers. With the party’s key faces stationed at their respective constituencies, Ahmedabad was, in fact, devoid of any recognisable face of the party.
The celebrations also continued at Jamkhambhaliya from where AAP’s CM face Isudan Gadhvi is contesting with firecrackers and sweets being distributed among the party workers. Gadhvi, joining in on the celebrations, and confident of scripting a win in Gujarat, also said that on Thursday, the party would join the ranks of a national party.
In 2022, Gujarat is witnessing a three-way contest between BJP, Congress and AAP. Most exit polls have predicted a victory for BJP in the elections and the AAP opening its account in the state. However, both Congress and AAP have refuted the exit polls predictions.
The BJP had launched a high-octane ‘carpet bombing’ campaign as it brought almost all its national-level leaders to the state. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had led the party’s campaign in the entire state. Union Home Minister Amit Shah, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, Assam CM Himanta Biswa Sarma and Goa CM Pramod Sawant, too, campaigned for the party in the state.
On the other hand, AAP’s campaign was headed by its national convener and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, who went through the length and breadth of the state. He was also joined by Punjab CM Bhagwant Mann during the campaigns.
The Congress’s campaign, in comparison, remained a low-key affair. Its senior leader Rahul Gandhi did only four public meetings in the state. Party president Mallikarjun Kharge, however, did hold a few public meetings.
Some of the prominent personalities whose fate will be watched keenly include Chief Minister Bhupendra Patel, Patidar quota stir leader Hardik Patel, OBC youth leader Alpesh Thakor, Dalit youth leader Jignesh Mevani, AAP’s CM candidate Isudan Gadhvi and its state president Gopal Italia.
The state witnessed an average voting of 64.33 per cent in two phases. In Phase 1, it was 63.14 per cent, while the Phase 2 voting turnout was at 65.3 per cent. The turnout was the lowest recorded in the state in the past 10 years.
In the 2017 assembly elections, the BJP came down to its lowest tally ever since 1995 at 99 seats. The Congress had put up a spirited fight and won 77 seats.