Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi kicked off a three-day Gujarat campaign on Monday with prayers at the famous Dwarkadhish temple in Dwarka and was welcomed by Patidar protest leader Hardik Patel.
With the state bjp police refusing him permission to cover the 135 km stretch from Dwarka to Jamnagar by an open jeep and stage roadshows citing security reasons., that made Gandhi to travel 25 km from Dwarka, in a traditionally decked up bullock cart.
The decision to launch the campaign from Saurashtra, which sends 58 MLAs to the 182-member assembly, is seen as a cultivated strategy to court the Patidar and other backward class (OBC) electorate.
The two communities, which form the core of the BJP’s support base, were giving jitters to the ruling party. State polls are due in Gujarat this year.
Gandhi’s itinerary includes Dwarka, Jamnagar, Morbi, Rajkot and Surendranagar areas that witnessed large-scale Patidar strikes. His journey ends on Wednesday.
The Congress strategy appears refreshed after the nail-biting win of Ahmed Patel, the party president’s political adviser, in the Gujarat Rajya Sabha elections this August.
“This is for the first time in nearly three decades that a tall Congress leader is campaigning non-stop for three days. In 1991, the late prime minister Rajiv Gandhi stayed in Gujarat for two days for campaigning,” party spokesperson Shaktisinh Gohil said.
Gandhi is likely to visit Morbi, the region’s worst-affected town during the 2015 Patidar stir.