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Modi is only issue in disinterested state

In a state where politics does not excite many, another election would be held on Thursday where the main issue will be Chief Minister Narendra Modi.

india Updated: Apr 30, 2009 01:38 IST
Prasad Nichenametla

In a state where politics does not excite many, another election would be held on Thursday where the main issue will be Chief Minister Narendra Modi.

In line with the lack of interest in poll games, the turnout in Gujarat is usually low: 47 per cent in 1999 and 45 per cent in 2005. And, the parties do not spend too much on campaigning.

Though the state, from long has been in the hands of the BJP and still inclines towards Modi, there could still be a close contest between the saffron party and the Congress.
Factors like economic slowdown, changing caste equations and the fact that it is the Lok Sabha election, and not assembly election, would influence the final outcome.

"These are not assembly elections where we can vote for Modi. It is for the government at the Centre and we prefer Manmohan Singh," said an executive working with a private firm in Ahmedabad.

The Congress faces a tough task. It does not have too many issues over which it can slam the BJP. Secondly, infighting and lack of a strong leader are causing some concern. Shankar Singh Vaghela is a prominent face but his influence is limited to Godhra, the seat he is contesting.

On the other side, BJP is worried about the shift in Patel loyalty which has traditionally voted for it. The sidelining of Patel leaders by Modi has ticked off the community. For the first time in many years on Tuesday 25,000 Patels assembled in Unjha in North Central Gujarat indicating the community's support for the Congress.

In 2004, Gujarat's 26 Lok Sabha seats were divided between the BJP (14) and the Congress (12). The NCPs and BSPs, which are also in the fray, are unlikely to register a win this year.