Campaigning for Rajkot Assembly bypoll ends

Campaign for the October 15 bypolls to Rajkot (West) Assembly seat, which has become a "prestige issue" for BJP, concluded on Monday.

Rajkot: Campaign for the October 15 bypolls to Rajkot (West) Assembly seat, which has become a "prestige issue" for BJP, concluded on Monday.

While Congress is eyeing victory on backing by Patel community, BJP wants to retain the seat against the backdrop of its defeat in three constituencies recently under the guard of the chief minister who has termed the bypoll a "prestige issue" for the party.

"We lost those seats in the by-polls held last month as we made some mistakes and therefore this election is a prestige issue for all of us," Patel had said party workers during the campaign.

Rajkot seat fell vacant after sitting MLA and Speaker of Gujarat Assembly Vajubhai Vala, who had retained the seat since 1990, resigned after being appointed Governor of Karnataka.

While BJP has fielded its senior leader Vijay Rupani, the Congress has given ticket to Jayanti Kalaria, a Patel, with a hope that the community will rally behind Kalaria.

The seat has been traditionally held by BJP.

Though Congress has nothing to lose, the by-election is considered to be a litmus test for the leadership of Patel who succeeded Narendra Modi as chief minister, and for Rupani.

The constituency has around 2.90 lakh voters out of whom Patels (both kadva and leuva) account for around 45 per cent.

In a bid to woo Patels, the chief minister had met their representatives and especially Naresh Patel, chairman of Khodaldharm Trust which holds a sway over Patel community.

The campaign took an ugly turn when Congress flags, banners and poll materials were found torched a couple of days back.

A suspected Congress worker, Tushar Nandani was also booked by police for allegedly defaming Rupani by printing and distributing pamphlets. BJP city unit president Bheekha Vasoya had lodged a complaint with crime branch against Nandani who is yet to be arrested.

The counting of votes will be held on October 19.

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