Bharatiya Janata Party's prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi is set to face a multi-pronged attack in his home state, with a battery of political heavyweights from major parties such as the Congress, Samajwadi Party (SP) and Janata Dal (United) arriving in Gujarat, starting Monday. Even senior leaders of the Arvind Kejriwal-led Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) are going to camp in Gujarat from next week and campaign in various parts of the state.
The onslaught is likely to begin with a public meeting of Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav in Patan district of north Gujarat. Former UP chief minister Mulayam Singh Yadav and Jaya Bachchan are also likely to address a couple of rallies in Gujarat.
Two public meetings of Congress President Sonia Gandhi have been scheduled on April 24. "Soniaji is likely to address public meetings in Valsad district in south Gujarat and Kheralu block in north Gujarat," said a sources in the Gujarat Congress. Party sources said his political advisor, Ahmed Patel, has already landed in Gujarat and will be holding meetings at local levels in south and north Gujarat regions.
While Sonia would be addressing public rallies, senior Congress leaders such as Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Finance Minister P Chidambaram will be engaged in closed-door meetings with industrialists and various other stakeholders. They are also expected to meet community leaders and religious leaders in Gujarat during their visit next week. Chidambaram and Singh are also likely to address the local media during their visit and address various issues on development and counter Modi's claims in the state.
When asked about Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi's campaign in Gujarat, Congress sources said: "Rahulji's programme has not been finalised as yet. But he will definitely be campaigning in Gujarat." Young Congress leaders such as Sachin Pilot and Jyotiraditya Scindia are also expected to campaign after April 24.
JD(U) president Sharad Yadav and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar are also scheduled to take on Modi in the later part of next week. "Though the dates are not fixed yet, they are certainly coming to campaign in Gujarat," said JD(U) sources.
Meanwhile, Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) chief Mayawati had decided not to campaign in Gujarat. Instead, her five deputies, who have been made in-charge of the state will be holding meetings and discussions across the state. The party also does not plan to hold any roadshow or public meeting, said BSP Gujarat convenor Bachubhai Patel.
The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has also announced its star campaigners who will be taking on the BJP in Gujarat. These include national secretary Pankaj Gupta, New Delhi candidate Ashish Khetan, national spokesperson Yogendra Yadav, East Delhi candidate Rajmohan Gandhi, the party's political affairs committee member Sanjay Singh and senior Supreme Court advocate Prashant Bhushan. Kejriwal is likely to focus on the Varansi seat where he is contesting against Modi.
However, the Gujarat BJP is unperturbed with leaders of national parties coming to the state. "We have our own heavyweights like party president Rajnath Singh, Arun Jaitely, Sushma Swaraj and former president Nitin Gadkari who will be campaigning for the party after April 24," said BJP media cell convener Harshad Patel.
According to BJP sources, even Modi is not likely to address rallies in Gujarat till April 24. Instead, he was using the 3D holographic projection technology to reach out to people in different constituencies of the state.