Cricketer Irfan Pathan Wednesday shared the stage with Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi at an election rally in Kheda, signalling the ruling BJP's desire to woo the youths and the minority community ahead of the balloting for the state assembly.
Pathan was with Modi during the rally for the second phase of elections in the state Dec 17. The first phase polling will take place Thursday.
The BJP has not fielded any candidate from the state's main minority community in the polls but has been making efforts to woo the community to widen its electoral base. Former state deputy chief minister and Congress leader Narhari Amin joined the BJP last week.
Congress leader and External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid took a dig at Modi over Pathan's presence at the rally.
Khurshid said Modi was trying to pull a rabbit out of a hat to ensure his victory. He said in an election one cannot expect the opponent to fight as "you would expect".
"I am surprised he is fighting it in this manner," he said.
BJP MP Smriti Irani defended Khan's presence and said that people would vote for the party on the basis of development brought about by Modi in the state.
She said the Congress was "demonising the player (Khan)" and "hitting below the belt".