As the campaign for the first phase of Gujarat Assembly elections comes to an end on Wednesday, the political parties in fray are expected to make their last pitch to woo voters from 89 Assembly constituencies that go to polls on December 9. Prime Minister Narendra Modi is expected to address rallies in Dhandhuka, Dahod and Netrang. He was slated to address a rally in Surat that was cancelled.
A day earlier, many rallies and meetings in the poll-bound state were cancelled due to bad weather conditions. BJP President Amit Shah’s poll rallies scheduled in Rajula town of Amreli and Mahuva and Shihor of Bhavnagar district were cancelled. Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi, too, cancelled three rallies in Morbi, Dhrangadhra and Surendranagar due to the impending cyclone. However, he did attend a poll rally in Anjar.
Gujarat election LIVE updates
5.00 pm: “They call us a government of the rich. It is the blessings of the poor that make us rich. Our asset is the hardwork of the poor. Our government worked for tribal welfare, ensured better education, healthcare,” says PM
4.55 pm: PM Modi begins his final rally of the day at Netrang. “Congress feels only one family won India freedom. They forget the contribution of the tribal communities to India’s freedom struggle,” says PM Modi
4.45 pm: Continuing his rally in Dahod, PM Modi says, “This part of Gujarat is special for me. When I took over as CM, people told me school dropout rates in this part are high. On hearing that I decided that come what may, we will get more children to school and we will ensure there are no dropouts.”
4.20 pm: “Uttar Pradesh was under Congress rule for long. But they were a corrupt government. I urge you to vote for the BJP as you have a stable government in the state,” the CM says
4.18 pm: “During the presendential elections in US, when Donald Trump was asked what he would do for the development of America, he said he would develop it like how Modi has done in India. Even the head of the most powerful country respects our PM,” said Adityanath
4.15 pm: Talking about the Gujarat model he said, “Every state in the country wants to imitate Gujarat development model. When Modiji goes abroad, he is respected by other leaders. Have you seen any such Congress leaders get such respect.”
4.12 pm: “Congress is keeping one leg in one boat each. People who do that drown. They have divided the country along caste lines,” says Adityanath.
4.10 pm: CM of Uttar Pradesh Yogi Adityanath addressed a gathering at Ghariyadhar in Bhavnagar district. Hitting out at Congress’ Kapil Sibal, he said, “Work at Ram Janma bhoomi was to start. But Kapil Sibal said it should not start. The Congress has to answer if the temple will be built in Ayodhya or not.”
3.55 pm: The Sunni Waqf Board must be congratulated for their brave stand on the matter and disassociating themselves from the statement of Shri Kapil Sibal: PM
3.50 pm: “The Sunni Waqf Board has stated that yes, Kapil Sibal may be our lawyer but what he said in the court is absolutely wrong. They too want a time bound solution to the matter. Everyone wants a time bound solution except Congress and their leaders,” says PM
2.56 pm: Only after Atal Bihari Vajpayee became PM, a separate tribal ministry was created, says PM in Dahod
2.10 pm: BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra launched an attack on Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday. “Badalte hue mausam ka badalta hua parwana hun main, Gujarat mein janeudhari hindu hun toh UP-Bihar mein maulana hun main (I change as per seasons. While I am a janeudhari Hindu in Gujarat. I am a Muslim cleric in UP-Bihar),” he said.
2.00 pm: Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday admitted to making an error in a tweet he shared a day earlier. While posting the seventh question in his “a question a day series” to the PM, Gandhi shared an infographic with some figures on price. Soon, people on social media pointed out that the figures were off by a margin of 100 per cent. On Wednesday, taking a dig at PM Modi, Gandhi said: “For all my BJP friends: unlike Narendrabhai, I am human. We do make the odd mistake..” Read more here.
12.46 pm: PM Modi concludes his speech. Next stop – Dahod.
12.45 pm: “In India, every now and then elections are there. In that case, I would say let us have elections of Lok Sabha and Vidhan Sabhas together,” Modi said.
12.44 pm: “Yesterday in Supreme Court, a Congress MP Kapil Sibal was arguing (which is his right) for the Babri Masjid. He is entitled to do that but is it right for him to say postpone hearing till 2019? Why does he have to link a Ram Mandir with elections. Is such thinking proper. Now, Congress links Ram Mandir with elections. They are least bothered about the nation,” Modi said. Yesterday, Sibal, appearing for the Uttar Pradesh Sunni Central Wakf Board, requested to set the date for next hearing after July 2019 since “the case has ramifications on polity of India.” Though Sibal did not mention elections, it was apparent to all present that he wanted the court to hear the matter only after the 2019 elections to Lok Sabha.
12.42 pm: PM Modi said he “will not be silent” on triple talaq. “Everything is not about elections. This issue is for the rights of women…elections come later humanity comes first,” he said.
12.40 pm: “When the triple talaq matter was in Supreme Court, the government had to put their affidavit, newspapers commented that Modi will remain silent because of UP polls. People told me not to speak on the matter else there will be losses in elections,” Modi said.
12.30 pm: “BJP has done development in Gujarat by adding using every single penny. It is not done by visiting temple after temple,” said PM Modi
12.23 pm: PM Modi also said, “BJP efforts ensured that youngsters in Gujarat got access to technology and there are more educational institutions to study. Our aim is to make our youth self-reliant.”
12.16 pm: “There are some words that the youth of Gujarat do not even know. One such word is curfew. Law and order situation has improved tremendously under the BJP governments over the last two decades,” Modi said.
12.12 pm: PM Modi also said the BJP government in Gujarat ended the frequent curfews that used to happen in the state earlier and worked towards providing electricity. “Apart from development, BJP’s biggest gift to Gujarat is sense of security,” Modi also said.
12.10 pm: The PM also said that Ambedkar was passionate about ensuring proper irrigation facilities to every part of India. “BJP in Gujarat has ended the ‘Tanker Raj.’ Tanker business was firmly in the hands of Congress leaders and their families,” Modi added.
12.06 pm: “Congress did not think of conferring the Bharat Ratna on Dr. Ambedkar,” PM Modi said.
12.03 pm: “One family has done greatest injustice to Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar and Sardar Patel. When Pandit Nehru’s influence on the Congress was complete, the Congress ensured that Dr. Ambedkar found it tough to join the Constituent Assembly,” Modi said.
12.00 pm: PM Modi also said that the thought of India having a Central Bank — the RBI– was the Ambedkar’s vision.
11.58 am: PM Modi remembered Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar on his death anniversary. “Today we remember the great Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar. I paid tributes to him in Parliament this morning, before coming to Gujarat. Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar was passionate about ensuring proper irrigation facilities to every part of India,” Modi said in his address.
11.56 am: Roughly 15 per cent of 923 candidates, contesting the first phase of Gujarat elections, are facing criminal cases — including charges like murder, rape and kidnapping. Read more here.
11.47 am: PM Modi begins his address at the Dhandhuka meeting.
11.41 am: PM Narendra Modi greets BJP leaders on stage.
11.38 am: Gujarat BJP leader Jitu Vaghani addresses the meeting in Dhandhuka.
11.35 am: PM Narendra Modi arrives in Dhandhuka town of Ahmedabad district to address a public gathering.
11.25 am: On Tuesday, Rahul Gandhi had criticised PM Narendra Modi saying the PM spends most part of his speeches slamming Gandhi and the Congress party and does not talk about the future of Gujarat. “Yesterday, I saw Modi ji’s (election rally) speech. From what I saw, Modiji talked about the Congress party and me for 60 per cent of the speech…that Congress party is this, Congress party is that… But we are not here to talk about them (BJP). We are here to talk about future of Gujarat. This election is about just one thing, and that is the future of the people of Gujarat. And in his entire speech, Modiji did not talk about your future, as to what the BJP wants to do for you in future,” Gandhi said in Kutch.
10.55 am: Tuesday’s campaign was also largely dominated by the Babri Masjid case hearing. “The verdict of the Supreme Court will be acceptable to the Congress party. The Congress believes from day one that all parties in the dispute must accept the decision of Supreme Court,” Congress communication in-charge, Randeep Singh Surjewala, said in Ahmedabad.
BJP President Amit Shah said, “BJP ki maang hai ki jaldi se jaldi Shri Ram Janmabhoomi case ki sunvai honi chahiye, sarvochha adalat ka faisla jald aana chahiye, aur wahan par ek bhavya Ram Mandir ka nirmaan hona chahiye. (BJP demands that the Shri Ramjanmabhoomi case should be heard at the earliest, the Supreme Court should decide on it fast, and a grand Ram Mandir built at the site).” Read more here.
10.50 am: On Tuesday, BJP had also called off rallies and press conferences of Rajasthan CM Vasundhara Raje and Uttar Pradesh CM Yogi Adityanath in Surat.
10.45 am: Due to bad weather, the venue of PM Modi’s election campaign meeting in Dhandhuka town of Ahmedabad district was being prepared on Wednesday morning. The ground is almost completely empty before 45 minutes of the scheduled time.
10.40 am: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday appealed to the Gujarat BJP workers to focus on providing assistance to the people likely to be hit by the cyclonic storm. “With Cyclone Ockhi expected to make a landfall in Gujarat, I appeal to BJP Gujarat Karyakartas (workers) to focus on helping people across the state. Our Karyakartas should devote themselves to providing all possible assistance and stand shoulder to shoulder with fellow citizens,” Modi wrote on Twitter.
Harsh Sanghvi, the MLA from Surat’s Majura seat, claimed that BJP leaders in Surat suspended their campaign-related work and began shifting people to safer places. “We have decided not to do any kind of campaigning until the effect of cyclone remains. Since this morning, all our workers have spread across the city to help people. We are moving them to safer locations. During this work, we will not wear any scarves having BJP’s election symbol,” Sanghvi said.
10.35 am: Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi also urged party leaders and workers in Gujarat to provide “all necessary help and support to the needy during this hour of crisis.”
10.30 am: Cyclone Ockhi was earlier headed towards south Gujarat and was expected to make landfall in Surat district. The latest IMD forecast however stated that the cyclone was now turned into a deep depression that lay centred in east central Arabian Sea, 240 km from Surat, causing high speed winds and rain across Gujarat and adjoining Maharashtra. Follow LIVE updates on Cyclone Ockhi here.