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'I will create a record by defeating Amit Shah'

By Syed Firdaus Ashraf
April 09, 2019 10:15 IST
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'In a democracy, how can you be scared of Amit Shah?'

IMAGE: Bharatiya Janata Party national President Amit Anilchandra Shah filed his nomination papers for the Gandhinagar parliamentary constituency, a seat currently represented by BJP veteran and former deputy prime minister Lal Kishenchand Advani who had won five consecutive terms from 1998 to 2014. Photograph: PTI Photo

There aren't many people who would want to go up against Bharatiya Janata Party national president Amit Anilchandra Shah and moreover think they can win.

However, the Congress's Dr Chatursinh Javanji Chavda, who currently represents the Gandhinagar assembly constituency, doesn't seem perturbed by what the media is terming as a Goliath versus David battle.

After being announced as the Congress candidate up against Shah, he said there is a wave of parivartan (change) and that the Congress will win more seats in Gujarat than the BJP.

"If you see the assembly election in Gujarat in 2017, then you will find that the Congress bagged only 0.1 per cent votes less than the BJP," Dr Chavda, a two-term MLA, tells Syed Firdaus Ashraf/


In 2002, at a time when the BJP did very well across Gujarat, you won the Gandhinanagar assembly seat. This time you are going up against Amit Shah. Are you confident that you can defeat him?

In 2002, when I contested elections I won the seat against then chief minister Narendra Modi's cabinet minister (Vadibhai Bhaichanddas Patel) and I was called a giant killer by the press.

Today, in Gujarat, there is a parivartan wave. People want change. And this wave is all over the country.

Till date, whoever contested from this constituency was assuming that he won't win, but I am different as I have worked from booth to booth.

Our Congress workers have visited every home and therefore, I am sure I am going to win against Amit Shah this time.

You are saying you will defeat Shah. However, the media is analysing just how big will Shah's winning margin be?

I am sure of my victory.

In 2014, when L K Advani won this seat he won by 422,000 votes. In the 2017 assembly elections, the victory margin was reduced to 242,000.

Now we just have to work hard on these voters who should give up the BJP and vote for the Congress.

I am confident to win these voters because Amit Shah has a negative image in Gujarat. And specifically, he has a negative image among the Patel community of Gujarat. They will come and support the Congress.

I am surprised you are saying Amit Shah has a negative image in Gujarat.

Yes. Fourteen members of the Patel community died during the reservation agitation, a fact which has angered the community.

And Hardik Patel, the man spearheading these protests, was charged under the sedition law; he was merely demanding reservations for his community and this is no way to treat him.

Moreover in Gujarat, there have agitations by farmers and even government servants. So, the entire state has turned against Shah.

But opinion polls state that the BJP will win all 26 parliamentary seats in Gujarat in 2019 too.

These opinion polls said the same thing for the BJP during the 2018 assembly elections of Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, but the BJP lost.

During the Gujarat elections, Amit Shah used to say the BJP will win 150 plus seats, but they got only 99 seats.

I feel out of 26 seats in Gujarat, the Congress will win more seats than the BJP.

What according to you has led people to drift away from the BJP?

Modi gave so many false promises before the elections. He said he will generate 2 crore jobs and also waive off farmer loans -- he did not do so.

On the Ram Mandir front, he failed.

He did not do anything against Article 370 and also did not help Kashmiri Pandits resettle back in Kashmir.

He had said he would change the name of Ahmedabad to Karnavati, which didn't happen either.

He said the Western Railway headquarters will be moved from Mumbai to Ahmedabad, but that too did not happen.

So there are many promises which Modi made, but he never fulfilled in the last five years. Therefore, disillusionment has set in.

He also said Rs 15 lakh will be deposited into the bank accounts of poor people. These things did not happen and on top of all that, he introduced demonetisation and GST, which destroyed farmers and businessmen.

But what you are saying is not visible on the ground as Modi is still very popular in Gujarat and all over India. This election is more about giving Modi another chance and voters seem to be in the mood to give him a second chance.

Modi is from Gujarat and there is no doubt the people of Gujarat love him, but this time his image has taken a dent.

If you see the assembly election in Gujarat in 2017, then you will find that the Congress bagged only 0.1 per cent votes less than the BJP.

Sadly, some Independent candidates got 1,500 votes and more which ensured the defeat of Congress candidates in 15 seats. Therefore, we could not form a government in Gujarat. We could not form the government because of Independents.

Since L K Advani won the Gandhinagar seat in 1991, the Congress has never won the seat in 28 years. And you are still confident of your victory.

See the history of the Gandhinagar municipality corporation and you will see that the Congress has been winning two consecutive terms.

Even at the zilla parishad level and taluka level in Gandhinagar, the Congress has been winning.

The place where Modi sat and ruled Gujarat, we have won. We were losing Gandhinagar only in the three urban seats of the Gandhinagar parliamentary constituency.

And we will work hard there and win voters from there too. We are going to every booth and speaking to voters.

We have decided this time we have to defeat Amit Shah.

Are you going to make how L K Advani was treated by the BJP an issue to present before the voters?

Amit Shah always cuts a person down to size and that is his habit.

Anandiben Patel was the first woman chief minister of Gujarat and she was sacked for no reason by Amit Shah. He did the same thing with L K Advani too.

Don't you feel scared?

In a democracy, how can you be scared of Amit Shah?

In a democracy people have contested against opponents and that is the norm. People contested against Indira Gandhi and Atal Bihari Vajpayee, so who is Amit Shah?

He has become big only after becoming BJP president. Before that, he was a nobody in Gujarat.

It is the people of India who decide who will become a big man.

And you see this time I will create a world record by defeating Amit Shah in this election.

The BJP has the backing of a huge machinery, money and muscle power. What are the means you have to fight against him?

I have the support of people.

The farmers of Gujarat are with us as they are sick of the BJP government.

Government employees did not get their increments and getting a fixed salary.

When the Gujarat government lost the case in the high court they went to the Supreme Court against their employees.

In my constituency there are many government employees who are unhappy with the BJP government for this move.

I have always spoken on these issues openly and people believe in me.

Why did Amit Shah choose Gandhinagar if, according to you, this is not a safe seat for him?

The BJP has become an arrogant party. Amit Shah went to the Rajya Sabha one year ago and he would have been a member of Parliament for another five years.

You only tell me why he came here to contest the Lok Sabha election when the BJP is confident of winning 26 out of 26 seats in Gujarat. He could have contested from any other state as he is the BJP president, but he did not do so.

He is contesting from Gandhinagar in Gujarat as he knows the voters of Gujarat have turned against the BJP.

When we had the Jan Sankalp rally with Priyanka Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi five lakh people turned up in the heat. They came to support the Congress, therefore I am confident that the Congress will win.

Don't you feel that elections in Gujarat have taken a communal turn with the Congress suffering as it is considered a pro-Muslim party?

The BJP has played the communal card many times. They gave false promise on the Ram Mandir too, therefore they have no other new card for them to play.

So people know their games and want to oust the BJP.

The slogan here is 'Modi humko tumse bair nahi, Amit Shah tumhari khair nahi (We have no animosity against Modi, but Amit Shah we won't spare you).

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Syed Firdaus Ashraf /