On ‘Jai Mataji’ note, Rahul Gandhi to visit PM bastion

GANDHINAGAR: After three-day visits to Saurashtra, central and south Gujarat, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi will go on a three-day tour of North Gujarat from November 11. Rahul’s tour will begin from November 11. He will first visit Chiloda in Gandhinagar and the revered pilgrimage centre, Ambaji.
Rahul was supposed to tour North Gujarat from November 9 to 11 but the party rescheduled it to November 11, 12 and 13.
Incidentally, Saurashtra, central and south Gujarat are all considered poll bastions of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and national BJP president Amit Shah. This phase of Rahul’s campaign is seen as the most crucial for him ahead of the high-stakes 2017 Gujarat elections.
Earlier, Rahul was expected to visit PM’s hometown, Vadnagar, during this phase but he has not included it in his current itinerary.
A month ago, Rahul had begun his poll campaign in the state with a visit to Lord Dwarkadeesh temple at Dwarka in Dev-Bhoomi Dwarka district. Now he will begin the last phase of his tour with a visit to Shaktipeeth Ambaji temple. He has also visited famous Chotila temple near Rajkot.
Rahul’s North Gujarat tour is significant in many ways. In 2012 elections, the Congress won maximum seats (18 out of 32) in North Gujarat and that too in Banaskantha and Sabarkantha. The failure of Congressmen to visit the region after August floods in Banaskantha and Patan clearly did not affect the party’s prospects.
At the time, Congress MLAs had gone to Bengaluru to prevent poaching by the BJP before the Rajya Sabha elections. (Senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel was elected in the poll.) Rahul had visited Banaskantha and Patan districts soon after the devastating floods in August. His car was also pelted with stones at Dhanera by some anti-social elements.
Equally important is the fact that North Gujarat is the epicentre of Patidar reservation stir. The politically powerful community’s demand for reservation in education and jobs started from Mehsana. The BJP had lost its majority in district and taluka panchayat and municipality elections in 2015.
Like his earlier three road shows in Saurashtra, Central Gujarat and South Gujarat, Rahul’s North Gujarat visit will also include all important religous places in his itinerary. During his yatra, the Congress vice-president will visit Ambaji, Shamlaji, Bechraji and other famous temples. He visited Kuldevi of Kadva Patel’s Umiya mata temple during his last public meeting at Mehsana.

Congress is expecting major gains in North Gujarat after Thakor Sena and OSS (OBC, SC and ST) Ekta Manch founder, Alpesh Thakor, joined the Congress in the presence of Rahul last month. Thakor has is very influential in Thakor dominated areas of North Gujarat.
He is expected to hold road shows and public meetings in Mehsana city, Bechraji, Danta, Palanpur, and tribal areas of Sabarkantha and Aravali, Patan city and several others places.

Bharatsinh Solanki, Gujarat Congress president, said that Rahul’s detailed tour plan will be finalised shortly. “But he is expected to tour extensively from November 11 to 13 in North Gujarat. The response to his earlier visit of the other three regions of the state in November has been tremendous,” Solanki said.

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