The stage is set for Lok Sabha elections in Gujarat, with officials saying that all preparations for free and fair conduct of Tuesday’s polls have been completed.
Campaigning was low-key with the Prime Minister, around whom BJP’s campaign was centred, addressing just seven rallies, and Congress president Rahul Gandhi, five. The BJP fielded a battery of national leaders, while the Congress’s campaign was mostly driven by local leaders.
More than 4.51 crore voters will decide the fate of 371 candidates in 26 seats. State’s chief electoral officer S Murali Krishna said voting would take place from 7:00 am to 6:00 pm at 51,851 polling booths, and more than 1.20 lakh security personnel would be deployed. “We appeal to citizens to exercise their right without fear or favour,” he said.
PM Narendra Modi, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, BJP patriarch LK Advani and Madhya Pradesh governor Anandiben Patel are among the dignitaries slated to cast votes in Ahmedabad. BJP president Amit Shah is contesting from Gandhinagar and is pitted against MLA CJ Chavda.
BJP had swept all 26 Lok Sabha seats in 2014, but it faces a tough fight in Anand, Amreli, Junagadh, Surendranagar, Banaskantha and Bardoli this time. State president Jitu Vaghani, however, was confident that it would win all seats. “The people of Gujarat want Narendra Modi as Prime Minister again,” he emphasized. Congress is determined to improve its performance of 2017 Assembly polls, which was the best in over two decades. “We are confident of winning more than 15 seats. BJP will be surprised when the results are announced,” gloated state in-charge Rajeev Satav.