Ahmedabad, Dec 9: Campaigning for the 87 Gujarat Assembly Constituencies that are going to polls on December 11 will end this evening.
The fate of 668 candidates will be decided in the first phase of polling.
Some of the key ministers of the Narendra Modi Government who are contesting election during this phase are Finance Minister Biju Bhai Vala (Rajkot II), Water Resources Minister Narottam Patel (Chaurasy) and Urban Development Minister I K Jadeja.
Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi who started his poll campaigning focusing development issues ended up in exchanging fiery allegations by Congress and Bharatiya Janata Party leaders.
The BJP did not touch upon the sensitive 'Hindutva" agenda in its election manifesto, and has instead focussed on people"s problems like housing.
The BJP manifesto promises to make a Garibi Mukt Gujarat (Poverty-free Gujarat), with the party promising “to provide housing to all the homeless in urban and rural areas."
So far Modi has single-handedly spearheaded the BJP campaign in the state. However, his recent election speech justifying 2005 fake encounter created worries for his party.
"Yes, Sohrabuddin Sheikh's encounter happened in Gujarat, and if Sonia Gandhi wants she can hang me for this," Modi said while addressing an election rally in Jamnagar.
Modi claims that he made this remark in an attempt to counter Congress president Sonia Gandhi"s allegation that he is a ''merchant of death.''
In an indirect reference to the BJP, Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh had on December 7 said "somebody is now trying to paint the Congress party in wrong colours," adding, "it is a measure of the fear and the uncertain future that faces them."
The Congress party has fielded 82 candidates for the first phase. During first phase, the Bahujan Samaj Party is contesting elections on 78 Assembly Constituencies, while the Nationalist Congress Party is contesting on 4.
Fifty-three female candidates electoral fate will be decided during first phase.
During the first phase, Chorasi, Assembly Constituency is the largest with 1, 593, 907 voters, while Manavadar is the smallest with 125, 902 voters.
The Congress party has fielded, Union Minister of State for Petroleum and Natural Gas, Dinsha J. Patel against Modi in the Patel-dominated Maninagar Assembly Constituency that will go for polling on December 16.
The second phase of polling for 95 seats will take place on December 16. The counting of votes will take place on December 23.
Over 36 million voters will decide the fate of 1268 candidates for the 182-member Assembly in Gujarat. The term of the State's Legislative Assembly is due to expire on December 26.
The BJP managed to win 127 seats, while the Congress party was able to win only 51 seats in the 2002 Gujarat Assembly polls. The Janata Dal (United) and independents won two seats each.