Gujarat polls: CM Vijay Rupani on phone says ‘our condition is bad here, mine is even worse’
Rattled by Congress' growing popularity in poll bound Gujarat, BJP leaders are getting desperate to ensure its victory in the state. This desperation is clearly evident in an audio clip wherein a helpless Chief Minister Vijay Rupani can be heard admitting the saffron party's weakening position in the state.
Catch could not verify the authenticity of the audio clip that has gone viral on social media.
In the clip, available on YouTube, Rupani is in conversation with one Naresh Sangitam from Wadhwan constituency in Surendranagar. Sangitam, who belongs to Jain community, had reportedly filed his nomination as an independent from Wadhwan and the CM can be heard pleading with him to withdraw his nomination.
Reports suggest that after the clip went viral five Jain candidates planning to contest as independents have withdrawn their nomination. A Jain dominated constituency, Wadhwan has elected a member of the community in the past four assembly elections.
However, facing heat from Patidars over reservation, the saffron party has decided to replace sitting MLA Varsha Jain with Dhanjibhai Patel. This has irked the majority community. More so, the clip has perturbed the BJP state unit and reports claim that the independent candidate and BJP's district unit are planning to file an FIR against those who released this clip.
A jittery BJP
Meanwhile, in the audio clip, the CM can be heard telling Sangitam that he is the only Jain CM in the country and that Prime Minister Narendra Modi called him to inform him that despite the fact that Jains constitute 5% of the state population, a Jain was chosen to lead the state in his absence. He can also be heard saying that he himself is facing serious challenges.
During the course of the conversation, Rupani tells Sangitam that the PM questioned whether the Jains of Surendranagar have been mollified or not.
Here is the rough translation of the audio clip:
Sangitam: Yes, yes!
Rupani: One minute, there is an important call.
Sangitam: Yes sir. Jai Jinendra!
Rupani: Naresh Bhai, we don't have to fight amongst ourselves. There is only one Jain chief minister in the country.
Rupani: I got a call from Narendra Bhai and he told me that despite Jains constituting 5% of the population, we still made a Jain chief minister. And whether the Jains of Surendranagar have been mollified or not?
Sangitam: Yes, why not?
Rupani: Our condition is not good, and mine is even worse.
Sangitam: We will not let your condition get any worse, we are with you in this.
A close contest
Meanwhile, multiple reports suggest that unlike the previous three assembly elections, the upcoming polls will see a close contest between the ruling BJP and Congress.
The grand old party, which has got crucial support from young Turks Hardik Patel, Jignesh Mevani and Alpesh Thakor, looks all set to give BJP a close fight in wake of anti-incumbency and the hasty implementation of Goods and Services Tax (GST) which has severely hurt the small and medium businesses in the state.
Realising how the business community in the state is up in arms against GST, Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi has been on a whirlwind tour of the state and had been targeting the government over the hasty implementation of the tax regime which has hit a chord with the people of the state.
The Gandhi scion's repeated interactions with various communities and persistent attack on Gujarat's development model has rejuvenated the Congress. For the first time in decades, it looks like a formidable opponent.
Interestingly, even the PM's appeal in the state seems to be waning considering the lack of crowds at his rallies, particularly the one in Bhuj where Modi delayed his rally till seats were filled.
The election for 182 assembly seats in Gujarat will be held in two phases on 8 and 14 December and the results would be out on 14 December. If Congress somehow manages to emerge victorious, it would be a major boost to the grand old party before the 2019 Lok Sabha polls. It would also be a devastating blow for BJP, particularly Modi, who hopes to repeat his 2014 general election performance yet again.