If it was the seaplane ride in 2017, it was the 50 km-long road show in Ahmedabad this time. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, with 31 rallies across the state and several road shows, left nothing to chance to shore up his party’s chances in the Gujarat assembly election.
The narrative seemed stacked against the BJP in 2017 amidst the Patidar unrest and a spring in the step of the Congress. Two days before the final phase of polling in 2017, Modi decided to fly in a seaplane from the Sabarmati river front in Ahmedabad to Dharoi Dam — a move that dazzled the voters and showcased that his party was very much in the contention. BJP pulled through with 99 seats of the total 182.
This time, Modi decided to send a message from the streets of Ahmedabad with a 50-km road show last week that his party described as the longest-ever and claimed over 10 lakh people participated in the same over a period of four hours to catch a glimpse of the PM. The PM also walked for a distance amidst the crowd as he went to vote on Monday, apart from holding 31 rallies in Gujarat over a period of 15 days.
All BJP posters in the state had the biggest photograph of Modi amongst other leaders, as the party banked yet again on the PM to woo voters after being continuously in power in Gujarat for the last 27 years. The BJP had challenges in this election — it changed its Chief Minister and the entire Cabinet over a year ago in a bid to arrest anti-incumbency.
The Morbi bridge collapse on October 30 that claimed over 150 lives also came as another challenge for the BJP just before the elections. There is also a new entrant in this time in the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), which tried to make the Gujarat election a triangular battle. The BJP, however, kept its course by keeping Modi as the centre-piece of its campaign, given Modi’s popularity in Gujarat even after moving on as the chief minister eight years ago.
The PM in his rallies attacked the Congress for using expletives against him, raised the development record of the BJP in the state and stressed on the card of nationalism and peace and security. Modi went to levels of micro-management too, imploring his party leaders over the last two days to increase the voting percentage in the second phase of polling after a 4 percent drop in first-phase polling in 2017.
Has Modi again managed with this heavy-lifting to pull off another record win for the BJP in Gujarat? We will know on December 8.
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