Social activist Anna Hazare may have publicly criticised Narendra Modi, but the BJP prime ministerial candidate seems to have captivated the residents of Hazare's village, Ralegan Siddhi.
Falling under Ahmednagar Lok Sabha constituency in western Maharashtra, Ralegan Siddhi came into the limelight during Hazare's Lokpal Bill agitation in 2011. The village does not have a single poster or banner of either Modi or the BJP's candidate from Ahmednagar, Dilip Gandhi.
But on Wednesday afternoon, nearly all residents were watching the live telecast of Modi's rally at Sangli in Maharashtra in their houses.
"This is the usual scene in Ralegan. Most of the people here are Modi fans, and we love watching his rallies," said Nandkumar Mapari, who owns a sari shop. "People are fed up with the present government. Modi stands for change. I travel to Gujarat frequently for work and have experienced the development there."
Locals say the village has turned anti-Congress for two reasons.
First, they hold the Congress responsible for Hazare's sufferings during the Jan Lokpal agitation. Second, the so-called 'Modi wave' seems to have caught on here, like elsewhere in the country.
"I am certainly impressed by Modi's ideas and speeches. Our country needs change and a strong leadership, which only Modi can provide," said 18-year-old Aakash Patahre, who will vote for the first time.
The support for Modi is reinforced because the villagers are not in favour of the NCP as well. Hazare has never had a healthy relationship with the NCP, and is known as a staunch anti-Sharad Pawar leader in Maharashtra.
"The NCP leaders do not respect or honour Anna. How can they expect our vote?" said Mapari.