“Instead of stepmotherly treatment, you will get justice” — screamed a BJP advertisement in local papers on Tuesday, a day before polling, stating how Gujarat had been sidelined by the Centre on issues like gas pricing, railways and financial aid.
Because of a heat wave warning on poll day, Election Commission has increased polling time by two hours — from 7 am to 7 pm. Apart from the 26 Lok Sabha seats, voting will held for seven assembly seats and for one seat each at Dadra & Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu.
Modi has addressed a dozen election rallies in Gujarat since the announcement of elections on March 5, beginning with the grand roadshow on April 9 in Vadodara when he filed his nomination. The Congress added some punch to this contest by changing Narendra Ravat, who was chosen through a primary, and fielding its Rajya Sabha MP Madhusudan Mistry.
With lots at stake, Modi has set himself a target of winning all 26 seats and also the maximum vote share.
The Congress’s campaign remained mostly low key, except for two rallies addressed by Sonia Gandhi and three by Rahul Gandhi. Ahmed Patel, Sonia’s political secretary got into active campaign mode, camping in Gujarat for several weeks at a stretch.
The Election Commission, which conducted an intense voter awareness campaign, has also directed officials in all constituencies to ensure one queue for men and two for women to cut down waiting time thus encouraging more women to come out and vote. All polling stations will also have adequate shaded area, drinking water and toilet arrangements.
From political novice like actor Paresh Rawal, the BJP candidate from Ahmedabad East, to party patriarch Lal Krishna Advani, contesting from Gandhinagar for the sixth consecutive time, all centered their campaign around Modi. Industrialist Gautam Adani stepped into the poll debate briefly first when Arvind Kejriwal of the AAP alleged he was Modi’s favourite and recently when Rahul Gandhi raised the issue of Modi government giving away land to Adani group at nominal rates.
The Gujarat Congress has written to the Election Commission asking it to keep a close watch on EVMs. Gujarat Pradesh Congress Committee president Arjun Modhwadia wrote that voting machines were tampered with in Assam, Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan and Jharkhand earlier. “The machines supplied to these states were alreadymanipulated. If you press any button on those machines, the vote is registered against the lotus. These machines were supplied by two companies based in Hyderabad and Bangalore,” Modhwadia’s letter said.