Ahead of the Assembly polls in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh, Democratic Azad Party chief and ex-J&K CM Ghulam Nabi Azad launched a scathing attack on AAP. Azad, who quit Congress on August 26, contended that the Arvind Kejriwal-led party won't fare well in the poll-bound states as it had failed to govern Punjab effectively. Dubbing it a 'UT party', the veteran politician asserted that Congress is the only party that can mount a challenge to BJP in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh owing to its inclusive policies.
Ghulam Nabi Azad remarked, "Even if I have separated from Congress, I was not against Congress policy. Our policy remains secularism, socialism and working for the poor. The reason for my quitting was the fact that our voice was not being heard and the Congress party was weakening by the day. From 20 states, we had come down to 2 states. So, the manner of running the system was wrong. The Congress party's policies were not wrong. I want Congress to do well in Gujarat and Himachal."
"AAP is incapable. AAP is a party limited to Delhi and is a UT (Union Territory) party. It cannot run a state. The party is not able to run Punjab. Today, people are regretting it. If the election is held in Punjab today, AAP won't get anything. If AAP couldn't be successful after getting a majority, how can it be successful in Himachal and Gujarat? Only Congress can challenge BJP there," he added.
On October 14, the Election Commission of India announced that the HP Assembly polls will take place in a single phase on November 12 and the counting of votes shall happen on December 8. While the current strength of the state Assembly is 68 seats, 17 are reserved for SCs and 3 for STs. 1.86 lakh first-time voters in the state will be able to exercise their franchise this time. While HP CM Jai Ram Thakur will again contest from Seraj, a seat that he has held since 2012, late ex-CM Virbhadra Singh's son Vikramaditya is in the poll fray from Shimla (Rural).
Gujarat has proved to be an impregnable fortress for BJP as it has been winning the Assembly polls in the state since 1995. In the 2017 election, there was a nail-biting contest between the saffron party and Congress which was bolstered by the fiery campaign of Hardik Patel, Jignesh Mevani and Alpesh Thakor. In the end, BJP won 99 seats in the 182-member Assembly whereas Congress bagged an impressive 77 seats. While AAP is also contesting in Himachal Pradesh, the thrust of its campaign has been on Gujarat where Congress has failed to capitalize.