Gujarat Assembly Elections 2017 Live: A total of 851 candidates are in the fray for the second phase
After a high-voltage campaign, stage is set as Gujarat gears up for the second phase of elections tomorrow. Top leaders from Congress and BJP criss-crossed the regions going to polls and addressed a number of rallies where they pulled out all stops to woo the voters.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi spearheaded the campaign for the ruling party and president of Congress Rahul Gandhi helmed the stumping for his outfit.
The second and final phase of elections will see 93 assembly seats spread across 14 districts in north and central Gujarat going to polls.
A total of 851 candidates are in the fray for the second phase, where 2.22 crore people are eligible to vote.
The Gujarat contest is being seen as a prestige battle for Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his home state, where a reinvigorated Congress has sewed up a broad social coalition with prominent Patidar, OBC, and Dalit leaders in its bid to unseat the BJP in power for over two decades.
Here are the highlights for the Gujarat assembly polls 2017:
Reacting to the Rahul Gandhi interview, BJP leader and Union Minister Piyush Goyal said it was not permitted in the last 48 hours of campaigning in Gujarat. "I am sure the Election Commission will take cognizance of this and take an action," Mr Goyal said.
In the interview the Congress President-elect also said that "the BJP is afraid in this election", stating that all the issues that he brought up in his aggressive campaign to attack the BJP with are issue of the people. "I only say what Gujarat is saying, what the people have told me their problems are. The BJP is afraid of what the people are saying, not of what Rahul Gandhi is saying," he said.
PM Modi helped me the most: Rahul Gandhi
A day before the second phase of polling, Congress President-elect Rahul Gandhi in an interview said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi helped him "the most" and he does not hate him.
"Modiji has helped me the most... How can I hate him," Mr Gandhi said in an interview to Gujarati news channel GSTV.
"If you look at religion and the history of the nation, love has to be the response to hatred. There is zero emotion of anger and hatred in me," he said in response to a question on the comments made on the Nehru-Gandhi family.
Meanwhile, Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar was sharply critical of Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday for "deliberately" misconstruing the dinner meeting at Mani Shankar Aiyar's residence that was attended by former prime minister Manmohan Singh as well.
PM Modi, and later the BJP, had linked the dinner meeting for Pakistan dignitaries and attended by Manmohan Singh with the ongoing assembly election. The insinuation was that Manmohan Singh had colluded with Pakistan, a charge that Dr Singh has described as "falsehood and canards" and demanded an apology.
On the last day of campaign, PM Modi also took ride in a seaplane from the Sabarmati river in Ahmedabad and landed 35 minutes later at the Dharoi Dam, about 180 km away. The Congress has alleged that the seaplane ride could lead to disqualification of BJP candidates due to overshooting of the poll expenses limit.
In the second phase of polls all eyes are on 39 lakh voters of 16 seats in Ahmedabad mega city, considered a stronghold of the BJP since the 90s. During the 2012 Assembly polls, the BJP won 14 seats here, including Ghatlodia, Jamalpur-Khadia, Vejalpur, Vatva, Ellisbridge, Naranpura, Nikol, Naroda, Thakkarbapa Nagar, Bapunagar, Amraiwadi, Maninagar, Sabarmati and Asarwa(SC), while the Congress won two seats-Dariyapur and Danilimada(SC).
The last day of campaigning saw both PM Modi and Rahul Gandhi visiting temples. While Mr Gandhi paid a visit to the famous Lord Jagannath Temple in Ahmedabad, PM Modi took blessings at the famous Ambaji Temple in Banaskantha.
On the other hand, Congress President-elect Rahul Gandhi persistently and tenaciously attacked PM Modi and BJP for "not talking about the future of Gujarat" and skipping key issues being faced by the people of the state.
During the campaign, PM Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah trained guns on the Congress on issues like Ram temple, alleged Pakistani interference in the Gujarat polls and Mani Shankar Aiyar's remarks.
As the campaign was nearing its end, "vikas" (development) took a back seat, and caste and religious issues received prominence. Pakistan, too, found ample mention in the final stages of the campaigning.
The influential Patidar community, which accounts for around 12 per cent of the state's population, could prove to be the 'X factor' in the polls in which agitating quota spearhead Hardik Patel pledged support to the Congress and appealed to people to "uproot the BJP" this time.