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Gujarat polls: Congress MLA lashes out at media, laments lack of funds

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By: Anand Singh | Khambalia (Gujarat)
Updated: November 23, 2022 10:48
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With just over a week left for the first phase of voting in Gujarat, senior Congress MLA Vikram Madam, who is facing AAP’s chief ministerial candidate Ishudan Gadhvi in Khambalia, blames the media and crunch of funds for the party’s lacklustre performance but hopes that the Grand Old Party do better in these polls.

Speaking to The New Indian, the legislator says that the Congress is in a direct fight against the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), alleging that AAP is contesting the election to eat into the party’s voter base.

“They (AAP) are in Gujarat only to cut the vote share of Congress. Educated people know that freebies being promised by the AAP are not sustainable. But those who are not educated may get swayed by the allure of free electricity etc. Thus, I am going to lose some votes and that makes my task more difficult. But no election is an easy election” he says.

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Madam, who represented Jamanagar parliamentary constituency twice in Lok Sabha, says Congress has worked hard for the common people on the ground but it does not have enough funds to highlight its works.

BJP has been ruling Gujarat for the last 27 years since Narendra Modi took oath as the chief minister in 2001.

“In the last five years, the Congress has worked a lot on the ground but the media is biased and only highlights the works done by BJP. We don’t have money to highlight our works,” Madam admits.

Madam expects that the Congress, which won 77 seats in the last Assembly elections, is poised to bag 125 seats in the 182-member Gujarat Legislative Assembly. A party needs at least 142 seats to form the government in the state. “We are hopeful that Congress will win 125 seats,” he says.

He rejected new entrant AAP’s claims of winning 92 seats in Gujarat in this election. “Gujarat is different from Delhi or Punjab.” Madan shrugs off concerns over an electoral challenge by AAP’s Ishudan Gadhvi, a former journalist who enjoys popularity in the state.

“We have got the organisational support. We had won most of the local bodies elections in Khambalia in last five years,” he says.

The Congress legislator, who hails from the Ahir community,  lists unemployment, inflation, and corruption as major issues ailing Gujarat. “Besides, there are some other issues as well – like doctors are not present in government hospitals, roads are in a bad shape, and regular availability of safe drinking water,” the legislator says.

Taking a jibe at the BJP government over the frequent paper leaks, Madam said, “Exam papers have been leaked 17 times and due to which, aspirants become overaged and they remain unmarried for years. It has shattered their life.”

Madan feels that the absence of senior party leaders in these elections won’t hurt the party’s prospects. “What party workers have done in the last five years is visible on the ground. In my case, I have not called any leader in my constituency,” he says, emphasizing that it takes a lot of effort and distribution of energy in arranging a public meeting.

“Elections are not won by gathering crowd but by dedicated party workers… BJP candidates go for campaigning in 20-25 vehicles, with around 100 workers. It looks good in pictures but in reality, is different. I go to meet constituents with just two vehicles with a few party workers. There is no need to show money power,” he says.

The MLA says he seeks votes on the basis of the development works as he highlights that he can be easily approached by anyone in the constituency.

Madam first won the assembly elections in 2002 and again in 2017. The Ahir community, categorised as Other Backward Casters (OBC), is a dominant electoral group in the area and only Ahir candidates have been elected from the seat since 1972.

There are 3.02 lakh voters in Khambhaliya, of whom 52,000 are Ahirs. They are followed by Muslims (41,000), Sathvaras (21,000), Rajputs (18,000) Dalits (18,000) and Gadhvis (15,000). Both Sathvaras and Gadhvis are also OBCs.

The BJP has fielded Mulubhai Bera, a former Gujarat minister on the Khambhalia seat.

Gujarat will vote in two phases on December 1 and 5 and counting votes will take place on December 8. The BJP is looking for a consecutive seven-term in the state.

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