Gujarat elections: Last day attractions before polls include Modi’s seaplane sortie, Rahul’s press conference
Prime Minister Narendra Modi will fly in a seaplane from the Sabarmati in Ahmedabad to Dharoi dam in Mehsana district on Tuesday.GujaratElection2017 Updated: Dec 12, 2017 10:35 IST
The 49-day campaign for the Gujarat assembly elections will come to an end on Monday and a sortie by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a seaplane and a likely press conference by Congress president-elect Rahul Gandhi will be the two things that the western state will witness for the first time this poll season. (Live updates)
Modi will fly in a seaplane from the Sabarmati in Ahmedabad at 9:30am and land at Dharoi dam, which is constructed over the river in Mehsana district, some 150km from the city. He will then head to the Ambaji temple in Ambaji town.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) said that Modi will offer prayers at the temple and spend about an hour there. He will then fly back to Ahmedabad in the same plane.
Congress’s star campaigner Gandhi is set to address a press conference in the afternoon in Ahmedabad, which will be his first after being elected the president of the grand old party on Monday. It will also be his first interaction with the media during his months-long campaigning in Gujarat.
He started campaigning in September-end by embarking on a three-day Navsarjan Yatra in Saurashtra, followed by three more such tours across the state.
The top leaders’ new strategy of reaching out to the voters comes two days before 93 seats of central and north Gujarat will go to polls on Thursday. In the first phase on December 9, polling for 89 seats from Saurashtra-Kutch and south Gujarat was held.
The BJP and the Congress had planned roadshows by their respective top leaders on Tuesday in Ahmedabad. The plan was called off after permission was denied by the administration citing law and order situation.
Both the leaders have been on a continuous campaign trail since the first phase of polling last week. The voter turnout in the phase dipped by around 5% compared to the 2012 assembly elections.
The Congress and the BJP have been embroiled in a war of words over crony capitalism invoking top industrialists such as Mukesh Ambani and Gautam Adani on Monday, a day before the campaign for the polls comes to an end.
Modi and Gandhi accused each other of promoting the rich, spreading canards and degrading the political discourse in the seven rallies they addressed in north and central Gujarat.
Over the weekend, Modi accused Pakistan of trying to influence the Gujarat elections, citing a meeting between Congress leaders and Pakistan’s high commissioner at suspended opposition leader Mani Shankar Aiyar’s residence in New Delhi.
His allegation drew sharp reactions from leaders of both the parties as they attacked each other.
The BJP has governed Gujarat for 22 years. The Congress wants to unseat the BJP by tapping the angst over the agrarian crisis and the implementation of the goods and services tax, and on the strength of a coalition it has built with Patidars, some other backward classes, and Dalits.
The BJP is hoping to retain power on the strength of the popularity of Prime Minister Modi, who was chief minister of the state for 13 years, and its record of development and governance.
Analysts expect it to be a close fight, although the BJP has maintained that it is confident of bettering its tally of 119 seats in the 182-member assembly in 2012. Opinion polls give the Congress anything between 37 and 85 seats, and the BJP 92-141.