NEW DELHI: All roads lead to election-bound Gujarat in the coming days, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi set to visit his home state on Sunday for the third time this month and Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi following suit a few days later.
While the PM will inaugurate a slew of developmental projects before the model code of conduct kicks in, Rahul is expected to undertake the third phase of his yatra during November 1-3, Gujarat Congress president Bharatsinh Solanki said.
The PM will inaugurate the first phase of the Roll On, Roll Off (RORO) ferry service between Ghogha in Bhavnagar district and Dahej in Bharuch, which will cut down travel time between the two places from eight hours to just one hour. A statement by the Prime Minister’s Office said Modi will travel in the first ferry service and address a public meeting at Dahej. He will also inaugurate a cattle feed plant at Ghogha.
The PM will later travel to Vadodara where he will inaugurate the city command centre, a regional water supply scheme and the new head office of Bank of Baroda. He will also hand over keys of houses built under the Indira Awas Yojana, besides laying foundation stones of other infrastructure projects.
Not to be left behind in the race for Gujarat, the Congress appealed to Patidar leader Hardik Patel to join forces with the party against the BJP in the Assembly elections. “I appeal to Hardik to support the Congress during the polls. We are also ready to give him a ticket if he wants to fight elections in the future,” Solanki said.
Congress managers claimed that Hardik had agreed to lend tactical support to them without entering into a formal pact. Responding to the offer, Hardik said: “Although I believe we must unite against the BJP, this is not a BJP-Congress election. This is an election of six crore people of Gujarat.”
According to a senior AICC functionary, Hardik is being cautious in openly backing the Congress. “He is only making gestures and has not come out openly in our favour. Perhaps he never will because of the large number of cases the state government has lodged against him.”
Congress managers, however, pointed towards Hardik’s recent comments against the BJP and his welcome to Rahul when he had launched his poll yatra in Dwarka on September 25.
In a significant development, Gujarat Dalit leader Jignesh Mewani and OBC leader Alpesh Thakor met Rahul in New Delhi on Saturday. During his visit to the state, Rahul is expected to raise issues of agrarian distress, rising unemployment and the problems faced by traders following the rollout of the GST regime.