The 2014 Lok Sabha elections has cast Vadodara, an otherwise low profile constituency, in Gujarat into the limelight with BJP’s prime ministerial candidate and Chief Minister Narendra Modi deciding to contest the polls from here.
This BJP bastion has an urban voting population, along with seven Assembly segments of which six are held by the saffron party. With a population of about 15 lakh, Modi chose Vadodara as he realised that an in absentia campaign would also work in his favour.
Yet not leaving anything to chance, Modi has ensured that while on campaign trail in Gujarat, he does address the people of Vadodara. So while he appeals to the nation about good governance, in Vadodara he invokes the Gujarati pride and the possibility of having a Gujarati prime minister.
The BJP has retained the seat from 1998 onwards. Though there was a change of guard in 2004, Vadodara remained loyal to the BJP and voted for Jayaben Thakkar over Congress’ Satyajitsinh Gaekwad.
But this time around, the Congress, too, did not want it to be a one-sided affair. Though Vadodara was chosen for the primaries, the Congress decided to do away with the local candidate, Narendra Rawat, and instead opted for senior leader Madhusudan Mistry.
A close aide of the Gandhi family, Mistry hails from Gujarat and has the advantage of being able to converse in the local language. So even as Modi flaunts of having spent four to five years of his life as a Pracharak here, Mistry, too, flaunts local connections hoping it would turn out be an advantage. “The Congress has been out of power in the state and from this constituency for a long time, but this time around the voters will definitely have second thoughts,” said Mistry.
He said that since Modi was contesting from two constituencies, he would have to vacate one and he would definitely choose to vacate Vadodara. However, visibly low on enthusiasm, Congress workers are hoping that Mistry does not end up losing his deposit amid the euphoria of having a prime minister from Vadodara.
While the Gujarat BJP hopes to improve its overall tally, they are definitely counting Vadodara and are only hoping to improve the victory margin from that of 2009. The Aam Aadmi Party, too, has fielded a candidate in Sunil Kulkarni and he is also not expected to pose any threat to Modi.