Campaigning for the parliamentary polls in Gujarat was lacklustre as chief minister Narendra Modi focussed on politically important states like Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. The Congress campaigning too was low-key with just half a dozen rallies by the mother-son duo of Sonia and Rahul Gandhi and other top leaders.
Confident of sweeping Gujarat, Modi held a few rallies including 3D ones this time compared to almost two dozen in 2009. In his absence, local candidates struggled to collect the crowd in the scorching heat. But, said BJP general secretary Vijay Rupani, "People in the state will vote for BJP because a Gujarati will become the prime minister of India after the polls."
The curtain on campaigning for the 26 Lok Sabha seats in Gujarat came down on Monday with Modi addressing five rallies and union minister Kapil Sibal campaigning for the Congress.
The saffron party has 17 members in the outgoing parliament while Congress has nine. Besides Modi in Vadodara, BJP has veteran LK Advani contesting from Gandhinagar. The Congress has union ministers Bharat Solanki (from Anand), Dinsha Patel (Kheda) and Tushar Chaudhary (Bardoli) as well as former chief minister Shankersinh Vaghela (Sabarkantha).
A sidelight of this election has been the decline of the powerful Patel community. Both BJP and Congress have fielded three Koli community candidates each from Saurashtra, which sends eight MPs. "This means political awareness has increased among the Kolis who outnumber Patels," a senior BJP leader said.
Of the 413 candidates in the fray, 14 are MLAs from BJP, Congress and NCP, which is contesting the lone Porbandar seat in alliance with the Congress.