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Congress upbeat about Gujarat, but wary of Modi, Shah

Sagar Kulkarni, New Delhi, DH News Service, Nov 15 2017, 10:23 IST
Rahul Gandhi has so far toured urban areas of the states that account for 60 odd Assembly seats where the going has always been tough for the Congress. PTI

Rahul Gandhi has so far toured urban areas of the states that account for 60 odd Assembly seats where the going has always been tough for the Congress. PTI

After an extensive campaign by Rahul Gandhi, the Congress is upbeat about breaking the 22-year-old jinx in Gujarat by defeating Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the Assembly elections in his home state.

Congress leaders touring Gujarat were elated about the positive response they received on the campaign trail and fervently hope that this "overwhelming" support gets reflected in the EVMs on the polling day.

Rahul Gandhi has so far toured urban areas of the states that account for 60 odd Assembly seats where the going has always been tough for the Congress. The Grand Old Party holds barely four or five seats in urban areas, where the BJP has a clear edge.

However, Modi's decision to scrap Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 currency notes coupled with the "faulty" rollout of the Goods and Services Tax has been a blessing in disguise for the Congress.

"We just have to present a picture that we are in the race and ready to take on Modi. The people are ready to support. They are very angry with GST in particular," a senior Congress leader involved in electioneering in Gujarat told DH.

Hindutva element

Rahul has added a dash of Hindutva to his campaign, having visited more than a dozen temples of various sects, including the Akshardham Temple in Ahmedabad and the Ambaji Temple in Banaskantha. This temple-hopping has riled the BJP, prompting them to dub it a "mere election gimmick".

Despite the positive vibes, Congress election managers are keenly watching the moves of the BJP, particularly its top campaigner Modi. They are aware that an extensive campaign by the prime minister can turn the tables on Gujarat. BJP President Amit Shah, who is considered as a master strategist, has been camping in the state for the last two weeks.

"Whoever wins, it will be a clear victory. Either we will get 125 seats or the BJP will get 125 seats. There will be no scraping through to the podium," said another Congress leader who toured South Gujarat and even participated in a door-to-door campaign.

The Congress has finalised 75 candidates but has refrained from releasing the list as the BJP had in 2012 successfully tapped the rebels to make a dent in rival's prospects.

Top Congress leaders are meeting again on Thursday to finalise another set of candidates and also hoping to give adequate representation to supporters of youth leaders Hardik Patel and Jignesh Mevani.

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