Gujarat turns battleground as Narendra Modi, Rahul Gandhi, Hardik Patel all descend on state at the same time

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday attacked the Congress' 'feudal mindset' yet again, by bringing up a decades-old visit of former prime minister Indira Gandhi to Gujarat's Morbi.

Continuing the second leg of BJP’s Gujarat Vikas Rally in Gujarat, Modi said, "When Indira Ben came to Morbi, I remember there was a photo of her in the Chitralekha Magazine with a hanky over her nose due to the foul smells, but for Jansangh/Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) the streets of Morbi are fragrant; its the fragrance of humanity."

The prime minister's latest accusations adds to the string of salvos against the Congress' dynastic politics and elitism, a point that the BJP has continually attacked and pitted against Modi's past as a "tea-seller". Modi will continue the campaign in Saurashtra and south Gujarat by travelling through Palitana and Navasari. Attacking Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi for calling GST 'Gabbar Singh Tax', Modi said that those who looted the country could only think of dacoits.

Resuming his campaign for the assembly polls in his home state, Modi also accused the Congress of taking credit and political mileage over minor schemes, like providing hand-pumps, while saying that the BJP rule brought major projects like the Narmada project for the benefit of the people.

 Gujarat turns battleground as Narendra Modi, Rahul Gandhi, Hardik Patel all descend on state at the same time

A file image of Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his campaign rally. Twitter/@BJP4India

Attacking Rahul on his planned visit to Somnath, Modi said, "If there was no Sardar Patel, the temple in Somnath would never have been possible. Today some people are remembering Somnath, I have to ask them — have you forgotten your history? Your family members, our first prime minister was not happy with the idea of a temple being built there." "Those who have looted the country can only think of dacoits," he said addressing a rally at Morbi in Saurashtra, which votes in the first phase of state Assembly elections on 9 December.

Gandhi had earlier dubbed the Goods and Services Tax 'Gabbar Singh Tax', recalling the iconic villain in the Bollywood blockbuster Sholay. Attacking the Opposition party, Modi said, "The Congress' development model was giving hand-pumps. For BJP it is the SAUNI scheme (the Narmada water project for Saurashtra region), where we will fill dams of Saurashtra through huge pipelines."

It is Hardik versus Modi in Patidar stronghold

Both Modi and Rahul are campaigning in the poll-bound state on Wednesday. Gujarat's vast Saurashtra region, pockets of which are dominated by the Patel community whose backing both their parties hope to get in before next month's assembly elections. Modi started his campaign rally from Morbi, which has a high concentration of Patidars. The community has been building pressure on the government for reservation in government jobs and colleges for over two years now.

While Modi was rallying in Morbi, Patidar leader Hardik Patel was addressing a rally 30-kilometres away.

Famous for ceramic and tile manufacturers, Morbi was abuzz with anticipation on Wednesday. The crowds that Modi and Hardik draw is expected to be compared especially after a low turnout was reported at two of Modi's earlier rallies in the Saurashtra region on Monday.

Reports have argued that Morbi, held by BJP for the last two decades, could "influence voting in areas around and the ruling party is reportedly worried not just about Patels being upset over quota but also over local complaints on basic amenities like water and roads".

Hardik also addressed farmers in Morbi and will continue to interact with the citizens during the 'Chai pe charcha' in Bella village and 'chowk pe charcha' in Sajjanpura village of the district later in the day.

The Gujarat Assembly elections will be held in two phases on 9 and 14 December. Eighty-nine Assembly constituencies will vote in phase 1, while 93 will vote in phase 2. Counting of votes will take place on 18 December.

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Updated Date: Nov 29, 2017 14:22:47 IST