Anxiety overshadowed optimism among chief minister Narendra Modi’s supporters as Gujarat prepared for Thursday’s verdict in the polls.
The mood in the opposition camp was no different.
A record 10% upswing in voter turnout in this election has left everyone guessing, although several opinion polls have predicted a hat trick for Modi with a score that’s as good as, or better than, the last time’s 117 in the 182-seat assembly.
Nobody is sure about the new voters. While some believe the higher turnout among the youth and women, especially in phase II , will help Modi, there are fears even within the BJP that the gains could be offset by losses in the Saurashtra region that elects 54 MLAs. Rebel leader Keshubhai Patel’s Gujarat Parivartan Party may spoil the BJP’s chances in the Hindutva stronghold.
On Wednesday, Modi held the last meeting of his cabinet, where he didn’t give away much. After the meeting, he reviewed preparations for the Vibrant Gujarat summit due in January, suggesting it was business as usual for him.
At the BJP office in Khanpur, a Muslim-dominated area of Ahmedabad, workers were busy preparing briefs for the media on “why Modi won”.
Despite getting a thumbs-down in opinion polls, the Congress remained hopeful of improving its tally of 59 in the last assembly. Workers at its state headquarters in Paldi appeared upbeat. “We will get the magic figure of 92 to form the next government,” said spokesperson Manish Doshi.
By the evening, however, the Congress office was deserted whereas the BJP office bustled with activity, with workers lighting diyas and bulbs.
BJP is likely to win between 105 and 110 seats — just short of what Modi needs to clear all hurdles to become the BJP’s PM candidate in 2014.
(With inputs from Divyaraj Gadhavi)