BJP chief Amit Shah's bid for a Lok Sabha debut from Gujarat's Gandhinagar will be one of the highlights of the third phase of the national elections today. The prestigious seat in the state capital, has been under BJP control for three decades. It was represented in parliament by the party's founder-member LK Advani and the candidature of Mr Shah was announced amid a huge controversy over the removal of the 91-year-old.
Sources said Mr Advani, a six-term member from the seat, had been extremely distressed over the party's manner of handling the switch. It also drew barbs from the Congress, which accused the BJP again of giving shabby treatment to its veterans.
Mr Advani is credited with taking the party to the national stage with his rathyatra campaign for a Ram temple at Ayodhya in 1990. The Congress had initially accused the BJP of "shunting" him to the party's non-starter Margdarshak Mandal and later, denying him what he deserved by naming Ram Nath Kovind as the President of India.
Mr Shah, the architect of the BJP's huge mandate in the 2014 national elections, was made a member of the Rajya Sabha in August 2017 and was given the seat occupied by Venkaiah Naidu after he was made the Vice-President.
His nomination for Lok Sabha turned into a massive show of strength by the National Democratic Alliance or NDA. A number of top leaders shared stage with Mr Shah at a public meeting in Gandhinagar and then held a road show through the city.
The Congress has questioned why the BJP chief needs to contest from what is seen as a safe seat.
"He could have contested from anywhere. Why Gandhinagar?" said CJ Chavda, the Congress candidate taking on Mr Shah from Gandhinagar. While Gujarat favours Prime Minister Narendra Modi, when it comes to Amit Shah, the voters are not so sure, he alleged.