BJP vs. Congress: Top 8 Gujarat Assembly Election controversies
With BJP leading in the Gujarat Assembly Elections, it looks like the party is heading for a victory in the state for the sixth consecutive time. The biggest political battle also triggered several controversies, wars of words, personal attacks, and abuses, including every person and institution involved in elections: from the Election Commission to Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Here are the top 8 controversies!
Election Commission was sharply criticized in October for not announcing Gujarat and Himachal poll dates concurrently. Congress alleged EC was helping BJP by giving it more time to woo voters before the "model code of conduct" gets implemented. However, Chief Election Commissioner AK Joti defended their decision, saying elections would divert government servants from flood-relief efforts in the places affected by floods in Jul'17.
Leader of Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS), Hardik Patel, accused BJP of spying on him after CCTV camera clips from an Ahmedabad hotel emerged, amid rumors that he secretly met Rahul Gandhi. He also said BJP's "dirty politics" had begun, after his alleged sex videos surfaced on social media. PAAS leader Narendra Patel also attacked Gujarat BJP saying it was trying to "buy him".
Rahul Gandhi's Somnath Temple visit triggered a controversy as pictures of his signature in the visitors' register in the non-Hindu category emerged online. However, Congress came to Rahul's defense saying that he isn't only a Hindu but also "wears a sacred thread," adding that Rahul's signature in the pictures was fake. Many claimed these as Congress's attempt to woo Hindus in the state.
PM Modi alleged Congress discussed Gujarat polls with Pakistani diplomats at a dinner hosted by now-suspended Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar for ex-Pakistani Minister Khurshid Kasuri. Ex-PM Manmohan Singh, who attended the dinner, demanded an apology from Modi saying his allegation was an "ill-thought transgression". Later Aiyar attacked Modi by calling him "neech aadmi" who isn't cultured, adding that he is doing dirty politics.
On the last day of campaigning, PM Modi took a single-engine Kodiak seaplane from Ahmedabad's Sabarmati River to Mehsana's Dharoi Dam. His seaplane ride, however, stirred controversy over flouting safety norms for travel of VIPs. The rules require a twin-engine aircraft for safety.
After PM Narendra Modi held a roadshow in Ahmedabad at a time when the second phase of Gujarat polls was still underway, the Congress attacked the Election Commission (EC) for not stopping the roadshow. Congress accused the EC was acting like as a BJP "puppet and frontal organization". A complaint against PM Modi was also filed with the EC by Congress.
The EC replaced some electronic voting machines (EVMs) after receiving complaints of tampering and malfunctioning in both the phases of voting in the Gujarat polls. Technical snags in 40 EVMs were reported in the first phase. The opposition claimed that EVMs were tampered with to manipulate results. Congress leader Arjun Modhwadia alleged, "All the machines got connected through Bluetooth of three mobile phones."
Attacking Modi, OBC leader Alpesh Thakor, who recently joined Congress, said: "Somebody told me that Modi ji has imported mushrooms from Taiwan. Each mushroom costs Rs. 80,000 and PM Modi has five every day. He has been eating them since he was the chief minister."