BJP President Amit Shah has made it clear that the party was seeking votes in the name of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to retain power in Gujarat, and set a target of 150-plus seats in the 182-member assembly.
“We want a victory by three-fourths majority. When Modi was Chief Minister, we got 127 seats. Now when he is the Prime Minister, this figure looks too small,” Shah told thousands of cheering party workers here on Monday.
Shah took a dig at Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi, who has been leading his party’s campaign in the poll-bound state, saying he had not done enough for his Amethi Lok Sabha constituency in Uttar Pradesh and was questioning how the BJP has been developing Gujarat.
“Rahul Gandhi has not been able to get a collectorate office made in Amethi and is questioning our work in Gujarat,” the BJP President said, claiming that the “anti-development” Congress would be uprooted from Gujarat in the upcoming polls.
He also lashed out at critics of Modi’s pet project of bullet train between Ahmedabad and Mumbai.
“They are mocking the bullet train, but Gujarat’s people love development. Modi’s Gujarat model has defined development,” Shah said.
Earlier, addressing the crowd, Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani announced waiver of one per cent interest on loans of Rs 3 lakh provided to farmers by the Gujarat government. The loan is being given to 25 lakh farmers annually.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is seen as the last big hope for an embattled BJP in the Gujarat Assembly elections where the party faces the electorate for the first time without him as the Chief Minister, is expected to address a massive gathering of party workers and announce a litany of new projects on Monday.
In what has been named the Gujarat Gaurav Mahasammelan, the BJP expects to see as many as seven lakh party workers, appointed as “page presidents” (in charge of each page on the electoral roll) on a five square kilometer land in Bhat village on the Ahmedabad-Gandhinagar highway.
It is likely to be the last event before the Election Commission announces dates for the Gujarat polls — expected to be held in December.
The Bharatiya Janata Party, which has ruled Gujarat since 1995 barring a gap of just over a year in 1997 when rebel leader Shankersinh Vaghela formed a regional party government with Congress support, faces a tough battle this time with an apparently renewed opposition putting up a semblance of an equal fight for the first time in 22 years.
Modi ruled Gujarat from October 7, 2001 to May 2014 when he became the Prime Minister. Now the BJP goes to the polls in the state for the first time without him as the Chief Minister in an anti-incumbency atmosphere.
Monday’s event marks the conclusion of the ruling BJP’s Gujarat Gaurav Yatra, which began in two parts on October 1 kicked off from Karamsad, the birthplace of Sardar Patel in Anand on October 1, and the second on October 2 from Porbander, the birthplace of Mahatma Gandhi.
The first covered 1,361 km and 76 assembly constituencies in Central and North Gujarat regions and the second travelled 2,395 km covering 73 assembly seats in Saurashtra and South Gujarat.
This is the Prime Minister’s fourth visit to Gujarat in a month and the eighth this year, during which he made a slew of announcements and attended a series of foundation-stone laying ceremonies of ambitious projects.
According to BJP spokesperson Bharat Pandya, he will come again on October 23 to inaugurate the Ghogha-Dahej Ro-Ro Ferry Service from Bhavnagar.
In all, Modi has come calling to his home state 18 times for official visits since he assumed charge in the national capital.
On his last visit on October 7 and October 8, he came with a bouquet of schemes worth Rs 12,000 crore, including foundation laying of a greenfield Rajkot Airport, Okha-Bet Dwarka cable bridge and Bhadbhut Narmada barrage.
Modi also visited his native place Vadnagar on October 8 for the first time after becoming the Prime Minister.
He was twice in Gujarat last month, first on September 13 and 14 to lay the foundation stone of the bullet train with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and then on September 17, his birthday, to dedicate to the nation the Sardar Sarovar Narmada Project at its full height of 138 metres attained two years ago after the Narmada Control Authority cleared it in June 2014.
As Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrived in poll-bound Gujarat on his second visit so far this month, Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi mockingly said that it would see “a rain of jumlas”.
“Mausam ka haal: Chunao se pehle Gujarat mai aaj hogi jumlo ki barish (Before the polls in Gujarat, there will be a rain of jumlas),” said Gandhi on Twitter, attaching a news report.
The Election Commission, which last week announced poll dates for Himachal Pradesh, delayed making the poll announcement for Gujarat, which the opposition alleged was in order to allow Modi to announce more new projects. (IANS)