New Delhi, July 2: Last month, Prime Minister Narendra Modi kickstarted the Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP's) campaign for the big Lok Sabha election in 2019 from Maghar, Uttar Pradesh on the occasion of the 500th death anniversary of saint-poet Kabir.
In Maghar, Kabir--known for his teaching of equality and love among all castes and religions--breathed his last. The all-important upcoming general election is likely to take place in April/May next year.
The decision of the BJP to start the poll campaign from Maghar was clearly to woo Dalits, other backward Hindus and Muslims, who are all followers of the 15th century poet-saint.
If Modi has blown the bugle for the 2019 poll from Maghar, targeting to win the next parliamentary election, then Congress president Rahul Gandhi is set to extensively campaign in Gujarat, known as the fort of the PM, for the all-important election.
The Congress president is all set to visit Gujarat twice this month--on July 11 and July 15. As a part of his Gujarat campaign, the scion of the Gandhi family will visit the crucial Saurashtra region's Junagadh, Rajkot and Bhavnagar districts.
It was in this region that the Congress made a major comeback after two long decades and won a majority of the seats in the 2017 state Assembly election. During the last year's Assembly poll in Gujarat, the 48-year-old Congress president had extensively campaigned which helped his party to win 77 seats in the 182-member state Assembly.
Although the Congress stood second and the BJP came to power in Gujarat once again, the tally of the grand old party improved from 54 seats in the 2012 poll to 77 in 2017. The Congress gave credit to Rahul for improving the party's performance in the last Assembly election in Gujarat.
According to reports, Rahul is expected to make at least three to four such visits to Gujarat till December to re-establish his connect with the people in the state. Gujarat holds great important for both the Congress and the BJP. While the state has been the saffron party's fort for several years now, the Congress is looking to weaken the BJP's hold in the state during the 2019 election.
Gujarat has a total of 26 parliamentary seats. In the 2014 general election, the BJP won all the 26 seats. It will be interesting to see how many seats the Congress will be able to win in Gujarat, where Modi was the chief minister for four terms before shifting his base to Delhi after he became the PM in 2014.
In the last few years, Gujarat has been witnessing a lot of anger and opposition against the BJP over the issue of demonetisation, Goods and Services Tax (GST), attacks on Dalits and minorities and farm crisis, to name a few.
If the Congress can make a dent in Gujarat in the upcoming election like it did in 2017 Assembly poll, it will be a body blow to the BJP and especially PM Modi.