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Curtains Down on Bitter Gujarat Campaign: Modi Makes Splash With Seaplane, Rahul Hopes for 'Zabardast' Result

PM Narendra Modi projected his seaplane ride as a reflection of development in the state, but Congress president-elect Rahul Gandhi dismissed it as a diversionary tactic.

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Updated:December 12, 2017, 11:56 PM IST
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Curtains Down on Bitter Gujarat Campaign: Modi Makes Splash With Seaplane, Rahul Hopes for 'Zabardast' Result
Rahul Gandhi offers prayers at a temple and Narendra Modi waves from a seaplane during the Gujarat campaign.
New Delhi: Tuesday marked the end of campaigning for the second and final phase of Gujarat Assembly elections, bring to an end one of the most vicious rounds of campaigning, with the stakes high both for the ruling BJP and an aggressive Congress.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi created waves by taking a seaplane ride from the Sabarmati. He let the pictures do the talking - pictures of him taking off in a sea-plane from the river front, of the plane landing on a pond and then his motorcade driving slowly into the temple town of Ambaji.

Projecting the plane ride as a reflection of development in the state, he urged Gujaratis to vote the BJP into power to soar to new heights, just like the plane. “With the Government of India and Government of Gujarat working together, the strength rises manifold. This 1+ 1 is not 2 but 11,” he wrote on Twitter.

But not everyone was impressed with the Modi show. Congress president-elect Rahul Gandhi looked upbeat about his party’s chances and dismissed the seaplane ride as a mere diversion.




"If he wants to fly on a seaplane, there is nothing wrong about it. But the issue is not the seaplane...it is the distraction (from the real issues). The question is what has been done for Gujarat in the last 22 years," he told a press conference in Ahmedabad.

He predicted a “zabardast” victory for the Congress and said the public mood in the state has undergone a radical change, with all sections of the society angry with the BJP.

"It is for the first time in an election that Modiji has not spoken about corruption...about farmers. There is (zabardast) tremendous undercurrent (against the BJP). Be it Patidars, OBCs, Dalits, farmers....all are angry. Public mood has undergone 'zabardast' change.”

"The Congress will win the election....the results will be 'zabardast'," a confident-looking Gandhi said.

Gandhi, whose campaign highlight has been his temple run, ended it by offering prayers at the Jagannath temple.




Of course, in between the last day road show and temple hopping, there were surround sounds which at times took the campaign on a different tangent. Cultural czars dissected Malik Mohammand Jayasi’s (whose village Jayas interestingly falls in Amethi) Padmavati in television debates. The sub-text in the election season though remained firmly anchored to Alauddin Khilji.

In the meantime, despite every note of caution sounded by Ashok Gehlot, Mani Shankar Aiyar thought he also needs to be heard in the election season. In the process, the Gandhi loyalist gave enough ammunition to Prime Minister Modi to play the victim card once again.

And finally, as has always been the case, no Gujarat poll is complete without the P-word. After all, the state shares a 96 km estuary with India’s neighbour on the western front.

A reception in Delhi last attended by some former Pakistan diplomats and ministers was raked up by Prime Minister Modi at an election rally. Former PM Dr. Manmohan Singh, also in attendance at the get-together, wrote a sharp rebuttal.

The war of words continued into the final lap, but all eyes are now on Thursday.

After the first round of voting on December 9 for 89 seats, the remaining 93 constituencies spread across 14 districts of northern and central Gujarat will see balloting to pick a new state Assembly. A total of 851 candidates are in the fray in this round.
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