Election Commission may announce dates for Gujarat polls after Modi’s Sunday visit


Prime Minister Narendra Modi will travel to Gujarat once again on Sunday to inaugurate and launch projects in Bhavnagar and Vadodara districts before Model Code of Conduct kicks in.

This will give credence to veteran Congress leader, P Chidambaram’s charges that the Election Commission had authorised the prime minister to announce the poll dates for Gujarat after having announced all the key schemes targetting Gujarati voters.

Taking to Twitter on Friday, Chidambaram had sarcastically written that the EC had “authorised” Prime Minister Narendra Modi to declare the dates at his last rally, after all “freebies” for the state were doled out.

Modi will inaugurate 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, reported PTI. The prime minister had called ferry service his “dream project” while addressing a gathering at Gandhinagar on Monday.

He will address a gathering in Ghogha and undertake a journey to Dahej from Ghogha on the ferry. From Dahej, he will leave for Vadodara, where he is scheduled to inaugurate and lay the foundation stones for projects worth over Rs 1,140 crore.

In Vadodara, Modi will launch eight different projects worth 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 collectively worth Rs 265 crore, a Rs 55 crore deer safari park, and a Rs 6 crore veterinary hospital. He will also address people at Navlakhi compound in Vadodara.

Modi had last visited Vadodara, a constituency from where he contested the 2014 Lok Sabha election and won by a record margin, on 22 October last year to inaugurate a new airport terminal building and distribute assistance devices to the specially-abled people.

The EC had on 12 October had announced that polling for the assembly elections in Himachal Pradesh will take place on 9 November, but refused to announce dates for Gujarat polls. Even though Chief Election Commission Achal Kumar Joti said that the counting for both the states will be held on 18 December.

The Congress had alleged that the government put “pressure” on the poll panel to “delay” the announcement of Gujarat assembly poll schedule to enable the prime minister to act as a “false santa claus” and offer sops, use “jumlas” (rhetoric) during his visits to his home state.

The model code of conduct would have come into immediate effect in Gujarat had the poll schedule been announced along with Himachal Pradesh, the party had said.

The BJP is facing growing anger in Gujarat, where the saffron party has governed for 22 years in a row. The party is desperately trying to woo the voters fearing unfavourable results in this year’s elections. Congress has suddenly intensified its game by going jugular against the ruling party.

Its latest campaign ‘development gone crazy’ appears to have put the BJP on the backfoot with its national president Amit Shah warning supporters not to pay heed to social media campaign by its rivals.