“Abhi bhi Modi ji ka hi jaadu hai, hamare dil mein Modi hi hai (Narendra Modi’s magic is intact in Gujarat, he is our heart)” — an aged Muslim voter, Sabir Miya, from a village in Kheda district, where the PM was speaking at a rally on Sunday, surprises us with this comment.
Travel from Ahmedabad till Narmada district to the ‘Statue of Unity’ passing Vadodara and Anand and all one can see on BJP posters is the prominent face of Narendra Modi flanked by other leaders promising ‘shanti aur bharosa’ (peace and confidence) in a state where the party has been in power for the last 27 years.
Modi may be in Delhi for the last eight years but his party still banks on him in Gujarat as the biggest vote-catcher with people speaking about the ‘Modi enigma’. Many locals do not seem to care about the BJP candidate, but Modi.
The former Gujarat CM is also not leaving anything to chance. He has already done 19 rallies here plus a road show in Surat and is slated to do 11 more rallies before the campaigning in the state ends on Saturday (December 3). He spent the Sunday night in Surat after his big road show after three rallies in the day and will hold four more rallies on Monday in various seats going to polls in Phase 1 on December 1. He will be back on December 1 in Gujarat for two days for seven more rallies in Phase 2 seats, ending his campaign with a road show and rally in Ahmedabad.
Such a whirlwind campaign for Modi in Gujarat is not new. Even in 2017, he did more than 30 rallies in the state including riding a sea plane in the fag-end of the campaign that caught eyeballs. While it was the Congress which had emerged as a big challenger in that election reducing BJP to a modest majority of 99 seats, this time the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) is trying to make the contest triangular. “AAP is not in the picture; they have come to break votes. BJP has no competition this time in Gujarat,” says Yagn Brahmbat, a first-time voter.
Sabir Miya from Udela village in Kheda says, “When there was a problem in my village, no one from the Congress came to check on us. They have lot of infighting.”
The Congress graph in Gujarat seems to be on the decline after the high of 2017, with the onslaught of the Modi campaign hurting the party further. Even local Congressmen say it was not right on the part of Rahul Gandhi to give space to Narmada activist Medha Patkar in the Bharat Jodo Yatra in the midst of Gujarat elections, something that Modi has pounced upon in his campaign to attack the Congress.
Modi continues to be a hit amongst the women voters as well, with women empowerment a major theme as depicted in women driving electric auto-rickshaws in Kewadia to the Statue of Unity. It is Modi’s promise of peace and security that seems to be resonating here too.
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