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Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi will be on a two-day campaign tour of Gujarat from Friday, during which he will accept a giant tricolour made by the Dalit community. The national flag was meant to be presented to Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani a few months ago but officials in the state capital had reportedly refused to accept it citing lack of space. Gandhi will visit Gujarat to lead his party's election campaign ahead of the first phase of polling for 89 seats next month. The highlight of his two-day tour is the visit to the Dalit Shakti Kendra (DSK), a vocational training institute run by Dalit activists, near Sanand town of this district tomorrow. "During his visit, Rahulji will accept a giant national flag, measuring 125 feet in length and 83 feet in height, from Dalit students of the Kendra. He will also address locals and Dalits of surrounding areas at the centre," Gujarat Congress spokesperson Manish Doshi said. "This is the largest national flag ever made. Though it was meant to be presented to Gujarat CM Vijay Rupani, he had refused to accept it when Dalits went to Gandhinagar in August. When Rahulji learned about it, he conveyed his desire to accept the flag with full honour," Doshi added. According to the founder of the DSK, Martin Macwan, the giant flag was made as part of their movement to end untouchability in the country. "This flag, made from khadi and weighing around 240 kgs, was prepared by around 100 DSK students from Dalit and backward communities.
Though we went to Gandhinagar to hand it over to the CM on August 11, he did not meet us. Officials at the Gandhinagar collectorate also refused to accept it, saying they don't have the space to keep it," Macwan said. "It was disheartening because we just wanted to spread the message and wanted to urge the CM to do his bit in Gujarat to end the practice of untouchability. When Rahul Gandhi learned about it, he informed us that he will accept the flag when he will visit the DSK tomorrow," Macwan added. Apart from interacting with Dalits in Sanand, Gandhi would interact with fishermen, doctors, teachers and villagers on his route covering Porbandar, Ahmedabad, Gandhinagar, Mahisagar and Dahod district during his two-day visit. After landing at the Porbandar airport on Friday, Gandhi would start his tour by meeting local fishermen to understand their problems, a release by the party said. In the afternoon, Gandhi would visit the DSK near Sanand. He will then arrive in Ahmedabad to take part in two separate interactive sessions, one with doctors and medical professionals and another with lecturers and primary school teachers. Late evening, he will address a gathering in the Nikol area of the city, the release said. On Saturday, he would visit various villages and towns on his journey covering Gandhinagar, Arvalli, Mahisagar and Dahod districts. Polling for the two-phase elections in the state, having total 182 seats, will take place on December 9 and 14 and votes will be counted on December 18. Eighty nine seats of the Saurashtra and South Gujarat region are going to polls in the first phase, while the remaining 93 seats in the central and northern regions would go to polls in the second phase.