The sudden increase in Congress campaign pitch has had its effects. Somewhat nettled, Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi has been forced to keep up.
From addressing six to seven rallies a day till Sunday, Modi addressed nine rallies in Saurashtra and north Gujarat on Tuesday. On Wednesday too, he is scheduled to address as many in central and north Gujarat. “During the first week of campaign, Modi held around 50 rallies across the state. But over the last two days, with the highly forceful campaign launched by the Congress, it seems he is little jittery,” said a BJP poll manager.
The politically-crucial Saurashtra, with its 48 seats, is the chief worry of the BJP.
The area, along with south Gujarat, goes to polls on December 13 and campaign there is over. But the Congress top-guns have already been there in strength. Rahul Gandhi has addressed two rallies in Saurashtra, Sonia Gandhi addressed one in Keshod, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh visited Navsari.
Sonia Gandhi’s political secretary Ahmed Patel has been making the rounds of his native south Gujarat. “Ahmedbhai’s rallies in Jambusar, Vagra, Dediapada and Ankleshwar have drawn good response,” said a Congress leader from Bharuch.
What makes it tougher for the BJP is that its entire campaign rests on Modi. There is no one else. The chief minister is also the chief crowd puller. "It is Modi, Modi, Modi. The other leaders have not received sufficient response from voters," said a BJP MP.
There are other problems too.
“This time, no issue has clicked with the public. The Congress has been smart, raising day-to-day issues and highlighting the failures of the state without even mentioning Modi’s name,” said the BJP poll manager. “Even with 48 hours to go for polling in 87 seats, no clarity or trend has emerged.”