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Gujarat in 2019: BJP’s sweep in Lok Sabha poll, fire in Surat, floods

A fire broke out in a coaching class in the four-storied Takshshila Arcade in Surat on the May 24 evening. (File)

BJP’s clean sweep in the Lok Sabha polls in Gujarat and the blaze in Surat in which 22 youngsters perished made news in the coastal state in 2019. The stellar performance of the BJP in this year’s Lok Sabha polls in the state after facing a scare from Congress in the 2017 Assembly polls surprised many in political circles. The opposition Congress was hopeful of a robust performance in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls after it gave BJP a tough fight in the December 2017 state Assembly elections, where the ruling party could win only a wafer-thin majority.

The Congress inducted Patidar leader Hardik Patel, and was hoping that the resentment in this influential community, which agitated for a quota under Patel’s leadership, would help it.

Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi delivered her first speech in Ahmedabad after officially joining politics, while Rahul Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi also campaigned in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s home state. But when the Lok Sabha poll results were announced on May 23, the BJP had swept all 26 seats. Following the drubbing, the Congress high command dissolved the entire state unit in October.

The highlight of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections in the state was the entry of cpresident Amit Shah in the Lok Sabha from Gandhinagar. Shah replaced party veteran L K Advani who had won from the constituency six times. Shah went on to become Union home minister, confirming his position as No 2 in the BJPs pecking order.

The young leaders who had emerged from the quota agitation wound it up and joined political parties after the Union government, in January, gave reservations to the economically weaker section in the general category. Hardik Patel joined the Congress but could not contest elections as he was sentenced to two years’ jail term in a rioting case.

Alpesh Thakor, who emerged as a young leader opposing reservation for the Patidar community in the OBC category, quit the Congress to join the BJP in July. But he lost the subsequent by-poll from Radhanpur seat in October. Bypolls to six Assembly seats provided some relief to the Congress, which retained three seats.

Bureaucrat-turned-foreign minister S Jaishankar was elected to the Rajya Sabha from Gujarat in July. A fire broke out in a coaching class in the four-storied Takshshila Arcade in Surat on the May 24 evening. In scenes that would never be forgotten, students, mostly teenagers, jumped from the building in an attempt to save themselves.

Twenty-two died, due to burns or injuries suffered in the fall. Nineteen others were severely injured. The report of the Nanavati Commission, set up to probe the post-Godhra violence, was made public in December, 17 years after the riots and five years after it was submitted to the Assembly.

It gave a clean chit to then chief minister Narendra Modi and his administration, and attributed the intensity of the riots, in which over 1,000 people, mostly Muslims, were killed, to deep-rooted animosity between the two communities.

In September, the Gujarat High Court rejected over 120 petitions filed by farmers against land acquisition for Ahmedabad-Mumbai Bullet train, a pet project of prime minister Modi. Farmers have now approached the Supreme Court.

For arid Gujarat, the monsoon this year was too wet. Crops were damaged due to excess rains and floods hit many areas.

Cyclones Vayu and Maha were predicted to batter Gujarat but ultimately steered clear of the state and fizzled out in the Arabian Sea. The government had made elaborate arrangements for the landfall of Vayu, evacuating three lakh people, but it spared the state.

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Source: Financial Express