While the Congress is facing the challenge of countering Narendra Modi, the BJP says its campaign for Modi is aimed at a top-notch level.
The Congress is getting ready its city unit president Narendra Ravat to take on Modi after his victory in the primaries, though there were rumours making the rounds that his selection as party’s candidate from the constituency could trigger factions within the organisation.
The Congress leaders said that star campaigners would be roped in to make the fight look “even”. In the process of drawing up its list of probable star campaigners for the approval of the state election commission, the Congress’s focus is on Vadodara, thanks to Modi’s candidature from the constituency.
Party leaders said that they intended to field campaigners from within the party as well as known faces. The names making the rounds include Sachin Tendulkar and Raj Babbar, apart from Sonia Gandhi.
Gujarat Pradesh Congress Committee leaders said that while Sonia Gandhi showed interest to hold a massive rally in central Gujarat, close to Vadodara, the party decided to bring actors like Celina Jaitely, Raza Murad, Govinda and Nagma to campaign in Vadodara.
Apart from these, former cricketer and MP Mohammed Azharuddin is most likely to conduct a road show in Vadodara to campaign for Ravat. A party leader said, “Our regular list of campaigners includes Soniaji, Manmohan Singh and Rahul Gandhi. Since Rahulji already has conducted his rally in Balasinor on March 11, he is unlikely to be able to make another visit. Soniaji’s rally will be scheduled soon.” The party is also planning to approach Rajya Sabha MP Sachin Tendulkar to campaign against Modi in Vadodara.
Ravat, who is contesting his first Lok Sabha election, said, “We are preparing a list of campaigners and we will send our request to the party. Vadodara saw the maximum number of star campaigners in 2002 when several chief ministers had arrived to campaign here. This time too, the list will be strong.”
In the 2012 Assembly polls, Jyotiraditya Scindia, Sushilkumar Shinde, Raveena Tandon, Aditi Govitrikar and Divya Dutta had campaigned in Vadodara for the Congress.
Party officials said that the idea behind roping in celebrities was to infuse interest among the masses for the political do. Moreover, since Vadodara has been among the two Rahul Gandhi primaries from Gujarat, the AICC is keenly watching all poll activities here. In fact, two AICC leaders are expected to arrive in Vadodara this week, to oversee the preparations for the polls.
GPCC spokesperson Manish Doshi said, “Our campaign will be based on truth, awareness among voters to vote for reality. We are readying our list of star campaigners for Vadodara which will be submitted to the state election officer soon.”
Meanwhile, the BJP, which is infused with zeal following Modi’s nomination, is focusing on a high margin victory for him. In marathon meetings and interactive sessions with party workers since Thursday, the local ward presidents in 25 wards of the city, the corporators as well as the party “Page Pramukhs” have been designated their roles for the campaign.
However, the party is making strategies with a probability that Modi might not be available to campaign himself in the city. Party secretary and councillor Shabdasharan Brahmabhatt said, “Our campaign will involve rallies, street plays and one-to-one interaction with voters. As far as star campaigners are concerned, there is a list of actors who are willing to visit Vadodara. Among the most likely ones are Vinod Khanna, television actors Dilip Doshi (Jethalal), Disha Vankani (Daya) and Smriti Irani. But we will finalise the list of star campaigners in near future.”