Campaigning for 1st phase of Gujarat Assembly polls ends (Update- Gujarat campaign)

December 9th, 2007 - 8:05 pm ICT by admin  

Ahmedabad, Dec 9 (ANI): The campaigning for the first phase of Assembly polls in Gujarat today came to an end that witnessed several notices issued by the Election Commission against prominent leaders like Congress President Sonia Gandhi, Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi and former Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh Digivijay Singh for their remarks.

The last day of the campaign that centred on Surat saw a last minute appearance by Congress MP from Amethi, Rahul Gandhi, who took out road shows and lambasted the Modi Government for allegedly telling lies to people.

Out of the 182 Assembly seats in the State, 87 will go to polls in the first phase on December 11, which will determine the fate of 668 candidates in the fray.

Some of the key ministers of the Narendra Modi Government who are contesting election during this phase are Finance Minister Biju Bhai Vala (Rajkot II), Water Resources Minister Narottam Patel (Chaurasy) and Urban Development Minister I K Jadeja.

Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi who started his poll campaigning focusing development issues ended up in exchanging fiery allegations by Congress and Bharatiya Janata Party leaders.

The BJP did not touch upon the sensitive ‘Hindutva’ agenda in its election manifesto, and has instead focussed on people’s problems like housing.

The BJP manifesto promises to make a Garibi Mukt Gujarat (Poverty-free Gujarat), with the party promising “to provide housing to all the homeless in urban and rural areas.”

So far Modi has single-handedly spearheaded the BJP campaign in the state. However, his recent election speech justifying 2005 fake encounter created worries for his party.

“Yes, Sohrabuddin Sheikh’s encounter happened in Gujarat, and if Sonia Gandhi wants she can hang me for this,” Modi said while addressing an election rally in Jamnagar.

Modi in his reply to the Election Commission, which issued notice against him, said that he made the remark in an attempt to counter Congress president Sonia Gandhi’s allegation that he is a ”merchant of death.”

In an indirect reference to the BJP, Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh had on December 7 said “somebody is now trying to paint the Congress party in wrong colours,” adding, “it is a measure of the fear and the uncertain future that faces them.”

The Congress party has fielded 82 candidates for the first phase.

During first phase, the Bahujan Samaj Party is contesting elections on 78 Assembly Constituencies, while the Nationalist Congress Party is contesting on 4.

Fifty-three female candidates electoral fate will be decided during first phase.

During the first phase, Chorasi, Assembly Constituency is the largest with 1, 593, 907 voters, while Manavadar is the smallest with 125, 902 voters.

The Congress party has fielded, Union Minister of State for Petroleum and Natural Gas, Dinsha J. Patel against Modi in the Patel-dominated Maninagar Assembly Constituency that will go for polling on December 16.

The second phase of polling for 95 seats will take place on December 16. The counting of votes will take place on December 23.

Over 36 million voters will decide the fate of 1268 candidates for the 182-member Assembly in Gujarat. The term of the State’s Legislative Assembly is due to expire on December 26.

The BJP managed to win 127 seats, while the Congress party was able to win only 51 seats in the 2002 Gujarat Assembly polls. The Janata Dal (United) and independents won two seats each. (ANI)

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