If Gujarat chief minister and BJP Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi needs an ideal second seat in the state, Vadodara seem to tick all the boxes and has a sitting BJP MP who is more than happy to make way for the country’s “Prime Minister”.
The seat will be a safe option for Modi as it has been out of Congress’ hands for the four consecutive Lok Sabha elections. Majority of its nearly 20 lakh population are in the services sector, the kind of urban voter the Gujarat strong man has been targeting.
Unlike Varanasi, Vadodara is a familiar territory for Modi. As recently as in 1989, he had traversed its neighbourhoods as a pracharak, and had been a frequent visitor even before that. The BJP holds all seven Assembly segments in Vadodara and can declare it a true stronghold.
“By contesting from this seat, Modi will ensure that the effect is there in other seats as well,” said city unit president Bharat Dangar, adding that the Gujarat chief minister will win with a large margin whichever seat he eventually chooses to contest in the state.
BJP state unit leaders say that Modi’s candidacy in Vadodara may have its rippling effect on the central Gujarat and surrounding tribal constituencies that have been a Congress stronghold. “We are confident that the result of the other seats will have a positive effect,” Dangar said. It has been rumoured that Modi may pick Ahmedabad (East) currently held by Harin Pathak, a confidant of elder statesman L K Advani. But a senior leader dismissed it saying asking Pathak to vacate would send a wrong signal to the party’s elders.
The sitting Vadodara MP Balu Shukla, on the other hand, is more than happy to leave it to Modi. “It is a matter of pride for us if Modi contests from Vadodara,” Shukla said.
Asked if the people would be cheated in the event Modi vacate the seat, Shukla said “There is no question of that as the people of the city will feel proud that they are sending the country’s prime minister from Gujarat.”