Congress president-elect Rahul Gandhi left no stones unturned to woo the electorate in Gujarat. He addressed almost 30 rallies, counting from the day the polls were announced on October 25.
He also visited around 12 temples during the months-long election campaign held for 182 assembly seats in the state. While the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) termed his temple visits as “political”, Rahul claimed he prayed for Gujarat’s well-being during every visit.
“Whenever I went to a temple I just prayed for a ‘Sunehra Bhavishya’ for the people of Gujarat, a better development here. Is it wrong to go to a temple? Jahan mauka milta hai vahan mandir jaata hoon, Kedarnath bhi gaya tha, vo kya Gujarat mein hai? (Whenever I got the opportunity I have visited temples, have been to Kedarnath as well. Is that in Gujarat?),” asked the Congress leader on the last day of his poll campaign in the state.
His visit to Somnath Temple where his name figured in a register meant for non-Hindus stirred a controversy which BJP tried to use to its effect.
During the initial days of his election campaign, Rahul accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of giving favours to five to ten industrialists and overlooking the overall development of Gujarat as a state. In fact, during his first rally in the poll-bound state on November 3, the Congress president designate termed the elections as a fight between “satya” and “asatya”.
“Many years ago, a war took place between satya and asatya. Pandavas had only truth with them and Kauravas had a huge army with them… Similarly, today the fight is between satya and asatya. And I want to tell you that I also do not have anything to offer but truth. Modiji has state governments, central government, police, Army… But falsehood never wins,” he said while addressing a public gathering in Valsad. READ MORE
Unlike his “suit-boot ki sarkar” jibe at Modi during the past elections in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, Rahul this time used the “Gabbar Singh Tax” to corner the ruling dispensation.
During the course of his election campaign, Rahul tried to connect with the common people of the state. He was seen clicking selfies with people, holding corner sabhas, interacting with various groups of people, having “chai” at various joints and having meals at the houses of the people in rural areas.
While, PM Modi has been boasting of the “Gujarat Model” during his campaign in the other state elections, Rahul accused Modi and Chief Minister Vijay Rupani of bringing upon “one-sided” development in the state.
The end parts of his election campaign also saw times when he asked his own party leader Mani Shankar Aiyar to apologise to Modi for his “neech” remark. A huge furore took place because of Aiyar’s comments after which PM Modi even accused Congress and his predecessor Dr. Manmohan Singh of colluding with Pakistan in the state assembly polls.
Rahul, however, made it clear that he would not be using ill words against Modi, as he respects the stature of a prime minister.
The last day of campaigning witnessed both Modi and Rahul visiting temples. While Rahul paid a visit to the famous Lord Jagannath Temple in Ahmedabad, Modi took a seaplane ride from the Sabarmati River in Ahmedabad to Dharoi Dam in north Gujarat and returned after offering prayers at the famous Ambaji Temple.
On the last day of campaign for the second and the last phase of Gujarat elections, the Congress president-elect exuded confidence that a “zabardast” result will come out and that the Congress would win in Gujarat.
“Mood yahan par bilkul badla hua hai… zabardast undercurrent hai. Dekhna, yahan par zabardast badlav aane wala hai. Result zabardast aane wala hai. BJP ghabaraee huyee hai, yeh pehli baar dekha hai ki sabhi agitation par hain… Patidar, OBC, Adivasi, Dalit, kisan, sab agitation par hain… Political mahaul bilkul badla hua hai. Aur mujhe vishwas hai ki hum jitenge (There is a complete change in mood… there is a tremendous undercurrent. A tremendous change is about to come. The result will be tremendous… The BJP is worried, for the first time, everyone is agitating. Patidar, OBC, Adivasi, Dalit, farmers, everyone has launched an agitation… There is a change in the political atmosphere. And I am confident that we will win),” said Rahul.
In the 2012 assembly polls, the BJP had bagged 115 seats, while the Congress won 61.While the Congress Party in Gujarat is hoping to bridge the around 9 per cent vote share gap that led the BJP to retain power in 2012, the saffron party, which is in power in the state for over two decades, has not only been confident of winning the fortress but also expanding its vote share.
A recent poll survey has predicted that both the parties will get 43 per cent votes each in the state. As per the third and the final round of tracker poll conducted by Lokniti-CSDS-ABP News, the BJP is likely to get 91-99 seats while the Congress, making inroads, may clinch 78-86 seats in the 182-member Gujarat Assembly.