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It's a contest between nationalism vs local issues in Vadodara

Press Trust of India  |  Vadodara (Guj) 

The two main parties in the fray in are going to voters with very different appeals -- the ruling BJP is pitching for teaching a lesson and the opposition is focusing on problems such as lack of jobs and high education costs.

The urban seat was propelled into the national spotlight in 2014 when defeated veteran Madhusudan Mistry by over 5.7 lakh votes.

When Modi chose to represent Uttar Pradesh's temple town of and resigned from Vadodara, the BJP chose Ranjanben Bhatt to fill his shoes.

Bhatt, who won the bypoll that followed, has again been nominated by the BJP from

Her message to voters is unambiguous and focused. In her campaign posters, Bhatt is seen asking people to vote for the nation's security and "to teach a lesson". She has also appealed to people to boost the morale of soldiers and uproot terrorism.

The outreach is diametrically different.

Congress candidate said he will solve people's problems, including issues like unemployment and high education costs, if elected.

According to the Congress' city unit president, who is fighting his first major poll, local issues are always important in an election.

"People vote for you to get basic amenities like better and affordable education. Though the BJP has been ruling the municipal corporation for the last 23 years, it did nothing. Raising the issue of nationalism is nothing but an eyewash to divert attention from its failures," he said.

Congress leaders added the BJP's track of invoking issues of national importance is a ruse to hide its "failures" in dealing with core issues concerning common people.

"This is not a local body election but a parliamentary poll...the Congress needs to understand this. If we had faltered in addressing local issues, we might not have been winning the civic polls here since 1995," said BJP said.

"The Lok Sabha polls are always fought on national issues. The Congress makes noise even if a gutter leaks in the city. They are doing this because they don't have anything else to say," he added.

Caught between the two parties are the nearly 18 lakh voters of the constituency.

Vadodara resident Ronak Shah, employed at a private firm here, said he supports the BJP when it comes to nationalism but is confused about who to vote for this time.

"The BJP and Modi did a great job. But we also want affordable education for our children," he said.

Another city resident, Jigar Prajapati, claimed the election will be a cakewalk for the BJP as urban voters tend to support it in

"Bad roads in some areas is not an issue. The BJP government has carried out many developmental works here, including flyovers...the urban voters will always remain with the BJP," he said.

A 27-year-old resident of the Muslim- dominated Tandalja area said the Congress was raising right issues.

"Though we are also with our soldiers, some people like us are still struggling to find better jobs. No new industries are coming here. There are many who are not convinced with BJP's idea of nationalism," he said on condition of anonymity.

The first time a saffron party candidate won the Vadodara Lok Sabha seat was in 1991 when Dipika Chikhalia, who played the role of Sita in popular TV serial "Ramayan" was elected to the Lok Sabha from here.

In 1996, Congress' Satyajitsinh Gaekwad, hailing from a royal family here, won the seat and remained an till 1998.

After that, BJP's Jayaben Thakkar won from Vadodara for three consecutive terms from 1998 till 2009.

In 2009, BJP candidate maintained the party's winning streak from the seat.

The Vadodara Lok Sabha seat covers seven Assembly segments - Savli, Waghodia, Vadodara City, Manjalpur, Sayajigunj, Akota and Raopura - all currently with the BJP.

All 26 Lok Sabha seats in will go to polls on April 23. The votes will be counted on May 23.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Wed, April 17 2019. 18:00 IST