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Parties ready for GMC elections, but citizens aren’t

BJP, Cong, AAP have all declared their candidate lists; locals want polls deferred

Gandhinagar: Even as the Bharatiya Janata Party raised eyebrows by nominating an entirely new set of faces for the Gandhinagar Municipal Corporation (GMC), citizens in the state capital shot off 3,000 postcards to their district collector and the state election commission asking that the polls be postponed.

The election for 44 seats in the GMC is slated for April 18 but local residents are worried that the polls could further aid the spread of COVID-19, which has seen a spike in recent weeks.

While incumbent BJP, longtime rivals the Congress and relative newcomers the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) are each hoping for a win, political observers say this contest is more a test of the BJP’s new policy, rather than a three-way fight.

The BJP’s list, announced late Tuesday evening, excludes the former mayor, her husband and every single councillor who has served in the past.

“This could be a game-changer,” senior journalist Prakash Jha told First India, “It’s not going to be a triangular contest, but a question of whether the new faces can bring in the votes that the BJP needs.”

However, the full picture will only become clear after candidates from all three parties file their nomination, he added.

“AAP could prove to be a double-edged sword, denting the vote banks of the Congress and BJP. Gandhinagar city is a different constituency than Ahmedabad, Baroda, Rajkot and Surat, and even Jamnagar and Bhavnagar because 80% of voters are salaried employees of the state government or its subsidiaries.

The pattern will likely be similar to that of New Delhi,” political journalist Ashwin Vyas expects.

Vyas adds that BJP’s new strategy means that constituents are not familiar with the candidates hoping to represent them.

Plus, government employees have expressed dissatisfaction with the state, which might also cause them to turn away from the BJP. Then, he says, is the question of how the old guard will react to the new faces.

“Will they campaign for them, or will they indulge in anti-party activities?” Vyas asked.

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