Modi to address mega show of anxious BJP workers
Ahmedabad: Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is seen as the last big hope for an embattled BJP in the Gujarat Assembly elections where the party faces the electorate for the first time without him as the Chief Minister, is expected to address a massive gathering of party workers and announce a litany of new projects on Monday.
In what has been named the Gujarat Gaurav Mahasammelan, the BJP expects to see as many as seven lakh party workers, appointed as "page presidents" (in charge of each page on the electoral roll) on a five square kilometer land in Bhat village on the Ahmedabad-Gandhinagar highway.
It is likely to be last event before the Election Commission announces dates for the Gujarat polls -- expected to be held in December.
The Bharatiya Janata Party, which has ruled Gujarat since 1995 barring a gap of just over a year in 1997 when rebel leader Shankersinh Vaghela formed a regional party government with Congress support, faces a tough battle this time with an apparently renewed opposition putting up a semblance of an equal fight first time in 22 years.
Modi ruled Gujarat from October 7, 2001 to May 2014 when he became the Prime Minister. Now the BJP goes to the polls in the state for the first time without him as the Chief Minister in a palpably anti-incumbency atmosphere.
Monday's event marks the conclusion of the ruling BJP's Gujarat Gaurav Yatra, which began in two parts on October 1 kicked off from Karamsad, the birthplace of Sardar Patel in Anand on October 1, and the second on October 2 from Porbander, the birthplace of Mahatma Gandhi.
The first covered 1,361 km and 76 assembly constituencies in Central and North Gujarat regions and the second travelled 2,395 km covering 73 assembly seats in Saurashtra and South Gujarat.
This is the Prime Minister's fourth visit to Gujarat in a month and the eighth this year, during which he made a slew of announcements and attended a series of foundation-stone laying ceremonies of ambitious projects.
According to BJP spokesperson Bharat Pandya, he will come again on October 23 to inaugurate the Ghogha-Dahej Ro-Ro Ferry Service from Bhavnagar.
In all, Modi has come calling to his home state 18 times for official visits since he assumed charge in the national capital.
On his last visit on October 7 and October 8, he came with a bouquet of schemes worth Rs 12,000 crore, including foundation laying of a greenfield Rajkot Airport, Okha-Bet Dwarka cable bridge and Bhadbhut Narmada barrage.
Modi also visited his native place Vadnagar on October 8 for the first time after becoming the Prime Minister.
He was twice in Gujarat last month, first on September 13 and 14 to lay the foundation stone of the bullet train with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and then on September 17, his birthday, to dedicate to the nation the Sardar Sarovar Narmada Project at its full height of 138 metres attained two years ago after the Narmada Control Authority cleared it in June 2014.