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Picnic for some after Gujarat's battle

india Updated: Dec 20, 2007 15:59 IST
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Now that polling for the Gujarat assembly is over, what are the state's politicians up to? Some are as busy as ever - others are relaxing.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) headquarters at Khanpur in Ahmedabad is almost deserted. A source in the office said a BJP contingent has gone to the temple town of Somnath. It is a sort of an official picnic for party cadres.

In the case of the Congress it was work as usual. Its state unit president Bharatsingh Solanki is presiding over meetings on what would be the roadmap for the party in the days to come.

A BJP critic could not refrain from commenting: "Whenever the party is in doldrums, it heads to Somnath." He was referring to the Rath Yatra of BJP leader LK Advani that began in 1990 at Somnath.

Although the campaign and polling are over in Gujarat, the shadow of veteran politician Keshubhai Patel continues to loom large.

The grand old man of the Sangh Parivar politics, Keshubhai Patel or Bapa as he is fondly known, has just gone back into his shell since the day of polling. To register once again how angry he has been, he did not cast his vote on December 11.

There has been no public appearance on his behalf but speculations are rife that he would play an important role once the results are announced on December 23.

Politicians in the state disagree with exit poll predictions that have talked about a BJP win and insist it would be a touch and go affair.

If there is a hung assembly or a slender victory for the BJP, it will be Bapa and dissidents led by him who will call the shots.

The exit polls have earned a notorious reputation in Gujarat. Ahead of the vote count on Sunday, the betting market is witnessing ebbs and troughs.

The exit polls might have said that the BJP would scrape through, but the punters are still taking bets favouring the Congress. There are some punters who insist the BJP won't get more than 85 seats in the 182-member assembly.

He may win or lose but Chief Minister Narendra Modi's fan following has definitely increased. His firebrand oratory has won him fans even among those who do not agree with his brand of politics. People have recorded clips of his speeches on their mobile sets and can be seen listening to these clips or making their friends listen to them over a cup of tea on the road side.

IANS came across several such people in Ahmedabad and Vadodara who were replaying Modi speeches on their mobiles.