The BJP is leaving noting to chance in the run up to the Gujarat assembly elections while the Congress hopes to improve its prospects with the inclusion of an OBC leader in the party.
New Delhi:Prime Minister Narendra Modi will visit Gujarat on Sunday for the third time this month as the BJP pulls out all the stops before the code of conduct kicks in ahead of the assembly elections.
Modi is scheduled to inaugurate and lay foundation stones for a number of projects in Bhavnagar and Vadodara districts. The projects include the first phase of the Rs 615-crore ‘roll-on, roll-off (ro-ro)’ ferry service between Ghogha in Bhavnagar district and Dahej in Bharuch in the Gulf of Cambay.
The ferry service will reduce the distance between the two towns from 310 kilometres by road to 30 km.
Modi will address a gathering in Ghogha and take a ferry to Dahej from Ghogha. From Dahej, he will leave for Vadodara to inaugurate and lay the foundation stones for projects worth over Rs 1,140 crore.
Vadodara Municipal Commissioner Vinod Rao said Modi will dedicate to people a Rs 100-crore city command and control centre in Badamadi Garden, Rs 125-crore Janmahal city transport hub and multi-level parking (under PPP), a Rs 160-crore multi-modal city transport hub, Rs 267 crore waste-to- energy processing plant.
The other projects are a Rs 166-crore water treatment plant, two flyovers worth Rs 265 crore, a Rs 55- crore deer safari park, and a Rs 6-crore veterinary hospital.
He will also address a public meeting at Navlakhi compound in Vadodara.
OBC leader to join Congress
On Saturday, the Congress received a boost with backward class leader Alpesh Thakor announcing his decision to join the party after a meeting with Rahul Gandhi.
Thakor, the convenor of the Gujarat OBC Ekta Manch and leader of the local Thakor Sena, has considerable influence among backward classes.
The OBC leader, accompanied by Congress general secretary in-charge of Gujarat Ashok Gehlot and state party chief Bharatsinh Solanki, met Gandhi in New Delhi Saturday evening.
Thakor said Rahul Gandhi would attend a rally organised by him on October 23 where he would join the Congress.
Earlier in the day, the Congress party had invited Hardik Patel, Thakor and Jignesh Mevani, a protagonist of resurgent Dalit politics, to join the party to ensure the defeat of the BJP. The Congress has been out of power in Gujarat for over two decades.
Solanki even promised to give an additional 20% reservation to economically backward classes in the state if the Congress is voted to power in the assembly polls. Solanki expressed confidence that the party would easily win over 125 seats in the 182-member House with the “support and blessings” of all these leaders.
But Hardik Patel did not seem very enthusiastic about the Congress’ invitation.
“It is a political stunt, coming as it does just before the elections. I cannot contest elections myself because of constitutional provisions, nor do I want. Since an invitation has been extended, our leaders will consider the proposal,” he told a news channel.
The minimum age for a person to contest an assembly or Lok Sabha election in is 25. Patel is 24.
Hardik Patel aides join BJP
In a win for the BJP, two of his key aides – Varun Patel and Reshma Patel – joined the BJP hours after the Congress’ invitation to Hardik to join hands with the party.
Varun and Reshma were among the prominent faces of the Hardik Patel-led Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS) and remained critical of the ruling BJP during the agitation.
They joined the BJP after a meeting with Gujarat chief minister Vijay Rupani, deputy chief minister Nitin Patel and state party chief Jitu Vaghani during its parliamentary board meeting, which was also attended by BJP president Amit Shah.
After joining the BJP, the Patidar leaders told reporters that Hardik has become a “Congress agent” and was trying to use the agitation to overthrow the present state government.
“Our agitation was about getting reservation under the OBC quota, not about uprooting the BJP and bringing the Congress to power. While the BJP always supported the community and accepted a majority of our demands, Congress is only trying to use Patels as a vote bank. We do not want to be part of such malicious conspiracy,” Reshma Patel said.
Unfazed by the announcement of his key aides, Hardik said in a tweet he that will continue to fight for the people.
“The centipede will continue to run even if some of his legs break. People are with me, and I will continue to fight for them,” he said.