Modi seeking to better Keshubhai's record in Guj in LS polls
Modi, as Chief Minister, has secured emphatic victories for three times in a row in Gujarat Assembly elections (2002, 2007 and 2009), but the party's performance in the state in Lok Sabha elections has not matched up.
BJP won 15 out of the 26 Lok Sabha seats from Gujarat in 2009, while Congress bagged 11. In 2004 BJP had won 14 Lok Sabha seats against Congress's 12.
This record pales in comparison with that of Keshubhai Patel. In 1998, with Patel (then with BJP) as the Chief Minister, the party had won an impressive 20 out of 26 seats, improving on 16 seats won in 1996. BJP sources said that Modi has set the state unit an ambitious target: to win all the 26 seats.
Preparations have begun early to make it possible. Party expects that Gujaratis would vote more enthusiastically for it this time, with Modi as its prime ministerial candidate. "Micro-level surveys have been conducted and all the basic preparations except naming of candidates have been completed by the state BJP for the Lok Sabha polls under the guidance of Gujarat Chief Minister," BJP spokesperson Harsad Patel said.
Noting that Modi "has taken personal interest" to ensure that nothing is lacking in preparations, Patel said, "Our target is to win 26 out of 26 seats as this is the home state of Modi.
"In July-August, we conducted Assembly "In July-August, we conducted Assembly constituency-wise analysis, in which booths which are strong or not strong were identified keeping in mind their significance for parliamentary constituencies," Patel said.
"We also undertook a drive to enroll a maximum number of people in our organisation. We asked every cell of state BJP to recruit at least one lakh people each," he said. "In September, we conducted a similar exercise for Lok Sabha seats. Now we have the data for the entire state as to where we are strong and where we are weak, down to the booth level.
The seats where there will be a tough fight have been identified and a report has been submitted to party president Rajnath Singh on October 1, Patel said. "We can say that we have completed all the basic work for the elections before the Assembly elections in the five states, so that the Chief Minister (Modi) can focus at national level," he said.
"We will canvass about the work done by the Modi government, ineffective governance of UPA and also foucus on local political compulsions, to turn the tables in the constituencies where we are weak," Patel said.