Modi still a factor in Gujarat

Modi still a factor in Gujarat

With five days left for the by-elections in Gujarat, a low key affair till now, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s absence is a noticeable change. 

This will be the first elections in the state after Modi took over as prime minister. Though many say it is a litmus test for Gujarat Chief Minister Anandiben Patel, the Modi imprint is still present in the by-elections for nine Assembly seats and one Lok Sabha seat.

All the nine Assembly seats where the by-polls are scheduled were held by the BJP and had to be vacated as sitting MLAs got elected to the Lok Sabha, including Modi.  

The Assembly seats where by-polls will be held are: Anand, Limkheda, Deesa, Matar, Maninagar (Modi’s Assembly constituency), Talaja, Tankara, Khambhalia and Mangrol. And the lone Lok Sabha seat of Vadodara is also being contested as Modi decided to retain Varanasi and vacate Vadodara.

As several first timers are in the fray for the BJP, the Congress has a good chance to wrest some seats in the absence of Modi’s blitzkrieg of campaigns. 

For the BJP, Vadodara candidate and deputy mayor Ranjan Bhatt was surprised when she was informed about her candidature. “I did not ask for a ticket but I am happy that the party decided to give me a ticket and I do intend to fulfill the aspirations of the people of this city,’’ said Bhatt while speaking to Deccan Herald. 

The BJP posters still devote large space to Modi, and the state unit says that the Modi factor will play a crucial role.  

Not only Bhatt, another first timer Suresh Patel, who is contesting from Maninagar, is also campaigning in Modi’s name promising to complete all development initiatives taken up by the former Gujarat chief minister. 

“This by-poll will be a test for us and for Patel as Assembly elections are generally fought on the basis of the work done by the chief minister,’’ said Congress spokesperson Manish Doshi.  

The party is of the view that this elections would be fought on local issues. “The BJP may like to continue to fight the election in Gujarat in Modi’s name, but local factors will play an important role and here the Congress has an advantage,” Doshi said. 

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