New Delhi, Nov 17: While both the Congress and the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) are busy in luring Patidar voters in Gujarat, Chief Minister Vijay Rupani believes that rashtravaad (nationalism) and not caste will the biggest factor in upcoming Assembly elections in the state.

Rupani said people of Gujarat will vote for nationalism and vikas (development) in the polls scheduled to be held in two phases in December. “People will rise above caste and will vote for nationalism and development. For us, nationalism is the biggest factor just like it was in Uttar Pradesh. Nationalism in any form that is good for the country,” he told a television channel in an interview.

The BJP, under president Amit Shah, is hoping to repeat the spectacular performance of Uttar Pradesh in Gujarat. The BJP and its allies won 325 seats in the 403-seat Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections held in February-March this year. Party insiders said chief Amit Shah has set a target of winning at least 150 seats of Gujarat’s 182 Assembly constituencies.

On Rahul Gandhi

Commenting to Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi, who has been relentlessly touring Gujarat to strengthen the support base for his party that has been denied power in the state for over two decades now, Vijay Rupani said the Congress scion will hardly make a difference.

Rahul Gandhi has been consistently targeting PM Narendra Modi and Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in his election speeches over issues like demonetisation and Goods and Services Tax (GST). However, CM Rupani said, “He (Rahul Gandhi) talks baseless things. I call him gappidas. People mock him on social media.”

Rahul_Temple

The Gujarat CM also targeted Rahul Gandhi over his ‘temple politics’. The Congress leader has visited several temples across Gujarat in recent days and the BJP described it as an “election gimmick”.

“I think it is good that Rahul Gandhi is going to many temples. May the Lord bless him with good sense,” Rupani said.

Gandhi, who has visited a number of temples since he kicked off his campaign by offering prayer at Dwarkadhish temple Dwarka in September, on Monday had darshan of Veer Meghmaya in Patan, Khodiyar Maa in Varana and Maa Bahuchar at Becharaji in Mehsana district.

I am a devotee of Lord Shiva. Let them say whatever they want to say. My truth is with me,” Gandhi told reporters here when asked about the BJP’s criticism of his visits to various temples.

The BJP, which has often accused the Congress of Muslim appeasement, termed Gandhi’s frequent temple visits an attempt to attract Hindu voters. However, the Congress countered the charge, saying the saffron party does not have the “patent on devotion”.  (Also Read: Main Shiv ka Bhakt Hoon, Says Rahul Gandhi Amid Criticism Over Temple Visits)

Voting in Gujarat will be held in two phases on December 9 and 14. Counting of votes will be held on December 18.