Gujarat’s Rajkot West is a BJP stronghold, and that is underselling it. The constituency has never had a legislator from another party. It’s where Narendra Modi won his first assembly election in 2002.
In the outcoming assembly, Rajkot West is represented by former chief minister Vijay Rupani. He’s not seeking reelection and in his stead the BJP has nominated Darshita Shah, deputy mayor of the Rajkot Municipal Corporation.
Rajkot city, which votes on December 1, has four assembly seats and the BJP has fielded new faces on all.
The city has a sizeable Patidar population but the BJP was able to shrug off the as well as the to win all four of its seats in 2017. It is hoping to repeat the feat by banking on new faces like Shah.
Shah briefly spoke with Newslaundry on the campaign trail.
What promises have you made to Gujarat’s voters when asking them to elect BJP candidates?
The BJP has been in power for the last 27 years. We have done a lot of development work. This is the government of vikas, vishwas and bharosa. We will continue our journey of development this time as well.
The BJP has fielded four new faces in Rajkot city. Did you seek a ticket from the BJP?
I did fill up a form for the ticket. I made no extra effort beyond that.
Do you think the party didn’t field Vijay Rupani again because there are reports of anti-incumbency?
It’s a salient feature of the BJP that it promotes small workers and gives them opportunities. This time the party decided to give me this opportunity. It considered me the appropriate candidate.
Critics say that the BJP’s “Gujarat model of development” is non-inclusive, that the rich are getting richer and the poor poorer.
I do not agree. The BJP cares about the poorest of the poor. That’s why it is a role model across the country. The BJP has developed Gujarat keeping in mind the needs of all sections of society. Our government has provided free ration and health insurance, and built houses.
Government data shows that 50 percent of Gujarat’s more than six crore population . Does this not show that Gujarat has a high rate of poverty?
That’s not correct. In the two years of Covid pandemic, the sources of livelihood and businesses took a hit. To help people overcome financial distress, the BJP governments expanded the free ration scheme.
Which party do you think is your main rival? The Congress or AAP?
For us, every election is like a battle. It does not matter who is standing against us, AAP or the Congress.
You are deputy mayor of the Rajkot Municipal Corporation. The Maldhari community has by the corporation. How can this matter be resolved?
We have to ensure that people in public spaces are not hassled by stray cattle. At the same time we will expand facilities where stray cows and buffaloes can be kept.