The Telegraph
Tuesday , October 3 , 2017

More Rahul trips for Gujarat battle

New Delhi, Oct. 2: Rahul Gandhi will return to Gujarat for another three-day tour from October 9 amid indications of growing unease within the BJP that has ruled the state uninterrupted for over two decades.

The tour across central Gujarat's Ahmedabad, Vadodara, Chhota Udaipur, Anand and Kheda will see Rahul follow the same pattern of bus travel, roadside and village meetings seen during his trip last month. There will be organised meetings too, with farmers, youths, traders and women self-help groups.

The Congress vice-president intends to cover the entire state before the announcement of the elections and two more three-day trips are on the cards.

BJP chief Amit Shah today told a rally that the election could take place in the first week of December. Congress spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi took a swipe at the prediction, saying the RSS and the BJP "have special privileges nowadays" but the election dates are not yet known to other parties.

The Congress also accused the BJP of trying to obstruct Rahul's visit to Amethi, with Singhvi asking if a Lok Sabha member needs the permission of the administration to visit his constituency.

A senior Congress leader referred to Gujarat and said: "The BJP is facing protests from Patidar (Patel) youths. Chief minister Vijay Rupani has been booed on several occasions and even Shah's meeting witnessed protests. We are not against any disruption but the people's anger is bursting out."

Hardik Patel, the chief of the Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti that is leading the quota movement, tweeted: "It is not the Congress that is fighting the BJP. People of Gujarat are opposed to the BJP this time. The BJP is going mad because of this. The BJP's campaign is not Gaurav Yatra, it is Kaurav yatra. Youths who held protests at yesterday's meeting (of Shah) in Karamsad (Sardar Patel's village) were beaten up."

Congress leaders have alleged that the BJP is using the NCP and breakaway leader Shankersinh Vaghela to cut into its votes. One leader said: "Praful Patel has announced the NCP will contest 60 seats. We know most of these will be in Congress strongholds. It is going to be a tough battle. Hence Rahulji is giving extra time." Rahul has never given so much time in any other state except his native Uttar Pradesh.

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