With just four days to go in the first phase of voting for the Gujarat Assembly elections, contenders are going all out to campaign with top faces. Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) national convener Arvind Kejriwal are today scheduled to hit the 'diamond city' Surat, which sends 12 MLAs to the state's 182-member Assembly, and will vote in the first phase on December 1.
Surat has traditionally swayed towards the ruling BJP, with textile and diamond merchants backing the party, along with lakhs of people associated with the sectors in the business hub.
PM Modi will address a public meeting at Mota Varachha in Surat after a 25-km road-show from the airport to the rally venue, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has said.
The PM is also scheduled to address rallies at Netrang in Bharuch district, and Mehmedabad in Kheda district.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, on a two-day tour of Surat, will hold townhall meetings with textile industry leaders as well as gem artisans, and address a public meeting at Yogi Chowk.
Mr Kejriwal will also hold a roadshow in Katargam, AAP has said.
"Within Gujarat, Surat has today become the epicentre of AAP. The Surat Municipal Corporation is today the largest civic body of Gujarat. As per our internal survey, the AAP is leading in all 12 seats with more vote share than the BJP," state AAP general secretary Manoj Sorathiya has claimed, adding that those associated with the textile and diamond industries were supporting his party.
The AAP has fielded its state unit president Gopal Italia from Katargam, and former Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti leaders Alpesh Kathiriya and Dharmik Malaviya from Varaccha Road and Olpad, respectively.
The BJP on Saturday released its election manifesto, promising "complete implementation" of the Uniform Civil Code (UCC) -- which will end religion based laws -- in the state if the party retained power. It has also promised to start an "anti-radicalisation cell" against 'anti-national elements' and creation of 20 lakh jobs.
Congress, which was so far the primary challenger to the BJP in the state but now faces a new threat in AAP, has said AAP has a lot of "hype" but will remain a "marginal player".
The grand old party is carrying out a very localised, personalised, and orthodox campaign as there is a very "strong undercurrent" of anti-incumbency against the state government, Congress leader Milind Deora, who is the party's observer for Gujarat polls, had earlier said.
The second phase of voting will be held on December 5 and votes will be counted on December 8.