Khambhalia: In a big setback for Aam Aadmi Party, its chief ministerial face in Gujarat Isudan Gadhvi – a popular journalist – lost by over 19000 votes to his BJP rival Ayar Mulubhai Hardasbhai Bera from the Khambhalia seat in the Gujarat Assembly Elections 2022. According to reports, Gadhvi, who contested from Khambhalia seat, lost to BJP’s Hardasbhai Bera, who polled 10 per cent more votes than the AAP leader.
AAP was leading in just five of the 182 assembly seats in the state, where polling was held in two phases on December 1 and 5. Gadhvi, the 40-year-old journalist-turned-politician, entered politics just a year back, in June 2021, and joined AAP, answering its call for change after 27 years of uninterrupted BJP rule in the state.
He was appointed as the party’s national joint general secretary and was declared as AAP’s CM candidate by party chief Arvind Kejriwal in November this year. AAP had asked people to submit their opinion to the party through social media, SMS, and emails on who should be the party’s CM candidate. More than 70 per cent respondents expressed their opinion in favour of Gadhvi.
During the month-long whirlwind election campaign, Gadhvi was the party’s star campaigner along with Kejriwal and Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Singh Mann. During the campaign, Gadhvi spoke of his being the son of a farmer and also of AAP’s promise of “bijli, pani and daam” (power, water and remunerative prices for produce) to win the support of the agrarian community. But this failed to strike a chord with the voters, who were unwilling to trust someone sans experience in politics or administration.
The AAP failed to woo enough support to win the elections but hogged Congress’ vote share in several places, leading to the victory of BJP candidates in close contest seats. The Kejriwal-led party now has an opportunity to replicate the Punjab experiment, where it came to power in the second attempt after a failed first attempt.
For Gadhvi, remaining relevant and emerging as a people’s leader would be the real challenge, a political observer said. The challenge before Gadhvi would be to build a solid cadre base of the party at the booth and block level to take on the well-oiled election machinery of the BJP and the Congress in the state.
His previous avatar as a famous television anchor and journalist helped him easily connect with the masses during the poll campaign. A native of Pipaliya village of Devbhumi Dwarka district, Gadhvi was born into a family of farmers. He belongs to the Other Backward Class (OBC) community, which accounts for 48 per cent of the state’s population.
Gadhvi started his career as a journalist with a local news channel around 17 years ago after acquiring a degree in journalism from the Gujarat Vidyapith, a deemed university in Ahmedabad founded by Mahatma Gandhi in 1920.
He started his career as a journalist in Doordarshan before shifting to a channel in Porbandar. During this tenure, he did some investigative stories against illegal deforestation, which brought him to the limelight.
In 2015, he took up the job of channel head of another Gujarati news channel ‘VTV Gujarati’ in Ahmedabad. He was also the anchor of a show called ‘Maha-Manthan’, which became extremely popular among rural masses as Gadhvi used to take up issues related to agriculture and farmers prominently.
He was also known for his aggressive anchoring style, and his on-screen personality helped him gain immense popularity among people. His criticising the administrative system and the government while debating key issues and seeking accountability earned him praise among people.