Campaigning for first phase of Gujarat election ends

The second phase will be held on December 17 and counting of votes on December 20.

Ahmedabad: Campaigning for the first phase of Gujarat Assembly elections ended on Tuesday with Chief Minister Narendra Modi signing off by taking a dig at Rahul Gandhi who finally hit the campaign trail in the poll-bound state.

While main players in the fray -- BJP, Congress and Gujarat Parivartan Party (GPP) -- had been slugging it out to woo voters all these days, Rahul`s appearance on the last day of the campaigning brought the two leaders, often being dubbed as prime ministerial candidates by their supporters, face-to-face.

Addressing a rally at Sanand near Ahmedabad, the Congress general secretary attacked Modi calling him a "marketeer" who indulged in a "false propaganda".

He also addressed public meetings at Jamnagar and Amreli in politically crucial Saurashtra in the span of four hours.

On its part, the ruling BJP under Modi left no stone unturned to give a last and decisive push to attract voters.

The Chief Minister, who has launched a poll blitz with an average of 8 rallies a day, hit back at Rahul for invoking Mahatma Gandhi in one of his rallies, saying "If Rahul Baba is walking on Gandhiji`s path, why is Bapu`s one wish is incomplete - to disband Congress after Independence?"

On Congress` part, party chief Sonia Gandhi, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and a battery of senior leaders including Ahmed Patel, Manish Tewari, Mukul Wasnik, Anand Sharma had addressed rallies.

In the first phase on December 13, a total of 1,81,77,953 voters will decide the fate of 846 candidates, including 46 women, for 87 Assembly seats spread over 15 districts from Saurashtra and south regions of the state.

The second phase will be held on December 17 and counting of votes on December 20.

In the poll battle, tech-savvy Modi appears to have scored over his opponents by addressing people through 3-D technology at as many as 53 places on Monday and 9 public rallies the next day.

BJP patriarch LK Advani, cricketer-turned-politician Navjot Singh Siddhu, actor Paresh Rawal campaigned for BJP on the last day.