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Can the Modi-Advani duo sweep the Gujarat?

Narendra Modi chose Vadodara so that it can have a ripple effect in central Gujarat where the Congress has traditionally been strong.

Meghdoot Sharon | CNN-IBN

Updated:March 22, 2014, 2:36 PM IST
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Can the Modi-Advani duo sweep the Gujarat?
Narendra Modi chose Vadodara so that it can have a ripple effect in central Gujarat where the Congress has traditionally been strong.
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Ahmedabad: With the suspense over on which will be the second seat that Narendra Modi will contest the general election from as well as which seat BJP patriarch LK Advani will fight from having been decided, it is clear that Modi's primary consideration in fielding himself from Vadodara and Advani from Gandhinagar is to strengthen the BJP's prospects in central Gujarat.

Modi could have chosen one of the two seats of Ahmedabad or the Surat to contest, but it does appear he deliberately chose Vadodara, so that his candidature can have a ripple effect on seats in central Gujarat where the Congress has traditionally been strong.

The Vadodara Lok Sabha seat though has been a BJP stronghold since 1991, barring an exception in 1996 when Satyajitsinh Gaekwad of the Congress who is also a member of the royal family, won the seat. In the 2012 assembly elections, the BJP bagged five out of the total six assembly constituencies under the Vadodara Lok Sabha seat. The Congress drew a blank as an independent won the sixth assembly seat.

Both the BJP and Congress candidates from Vadodara share the same first name - Narendra. But that's the only similarity. While Modi is the BJP's Prime Ministerial candidate, Rawat has never been even an MLA. A student leader, Narendra Rawat pipped other contenders in the primary that was held by the Congress party to choose its candidate.

The Gandhinagar Lok Sabha seat is important not just because it is the seat of power in the state, but also for the fact that a stalwart like Advani contesting from Gandhinagar will galvanise voters in at least three neighbouring constituencies. It is one of the safest seats for the BJP. The party has not lost Gandhinagar since 1989 - with Advani having won it five times and Atal Behari Vajpayee winning once from Gandhinagar.

Like Vadodara, the Gandhinagar contest is not seen as one that will be keenly contested. The Congress has fielded Kirit Patel against Advani. Patel though knows the BJP organisation well. He had been elected MLA from Visnagar on a BJP ticket during Keshubhai Patel's tenure and later on was a minister in Shankersinh Vaghela's cabinet as well.

By getting himself to contest from Vadodara and pacifying Advani to contest from Gandhinagar, it does appear that Modi wants to create a ripple effect in favour of the BJP. Seats around the Vadodara seat in central Gujarat have traditionally been dominated by the Congress with leaders like Dinsha Patel and Bharat Solanki getting elected from nearby Kheda and Anand constituencies. Modi would look to impact those constituencies as well.

Similarly, by almost arm-twisting Advani to contest from Gandhinagar, Modi would look to use his stature to impact voters of Lok Sabha constituencies surrounding Gandhinagar, including Ahmedabad and the areas of north Gujarat bordering Gandhinagar constituency.

Modi's aim to pocket maximum LS seats from Gujarat - he would like all 26 - is evident from the seat distribution. But in doing so, he has ruffled feathers again within the BJP.

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