With the nomination process for the September 13 Lok Sabha bypoll in Vadodara complete now, political parties are all set with their campaigns for the next one week. While the BJP is riding on the popularity of Narendra Modi for its poll campaign strategy, Congress candidate Narendra Ravat has taken it upon himself to connect to the voters.
Since Saturday, political parties have begun putting up campaign hoardings across the city. The BJP campaign is relying on the Modi wave from the April Lok Sabha polls, with hoardings of his cut-outs and pictures seeking votes from Vadodara.
The Modi hoardings and kiosks promise “Suraksha and Sushashan” (safety and good governance) as they urge Vadodara to vote for the party once again. Ranjan Bhatt — Vadodara deputy mayor and party candidate too — finds place in some of the hoardings and kiosks as part of the party’s conscious attempt to familiarise her with the voters.
Although a BJP old-timer, Bhatt has been in the background of party activity and remains a much unknown face for the citizens at large. Party leaders acknowledge this fact as they gear up for the campaign. Senior leader Bhupendra Lakhawala, who is in-charge of the poll campaign for Bhatt, said, “We have put up hoardings with Ranjanben’s photo on it across the city so that the people know her. The time period is too short because it is the bypolls. In a Lok Sabha elections, we get about 40 days to introduce a new candidate that the party decides to field.” However, party leaders are confident that Modi’s charm will work in its favour.
A senior party leader said, “This election is only a formality. People have voted for the BJP in April. This is simply to elect another representative. For us, this is Modiji’s seat that we have to simply administer in his absence. People must know that Modiji has not deserted them.”
On Sunday, Bhatt did a road show in Sayajigunj and inaugurated two party offices in Akota and Raopura. Bhatt has promised to work for the people of Vadodara. “I have been chosen to represent this constituency and I understand that it is a responsibility that has been given to me. I will work day and night to make true Modiji’s promises to Vadodara,” Bhatt said. Over the next one week, Bhatt will meet voters in the city as well as farther areas of the constituency in Waghodia and Savli, where she is a much unknown face.
On the other hand, the Congress party’s poll campaign is focused on candidate Narendra Ravat’s aggressive anti-BJP protests. Ravat’s hoardings and kiosks scream “Jago Vadodara” to vote for “new leadership, new vigour, new strength”, which is the catchphrase of his campaign. Ravat’s campaign, which hardly makes any mention of Rahul Gandhi or the UPA government, promises development for Vadodara city in the areas of civic issues, education and youth.
Ravat said, “Vadodara has lost its glory in the last two decades and it is time to restore it in the fields of education, governance and life in the city. My entire campaign is focused at making people aware of how they have been taken for a ride by the BJP all this while and why they should bring a change to the city with their votes. The entire campaign is more like an extended protest.” Over the next one week, Ravat too will canvass through the constituency with his anti-government slogans.