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Dilli Gupshup: How important is Gujarat to Rahul Gandhi?

Last updated on: December 13, 2012 19:00 IST

How important is Gujarat to Rahul Gandhi?

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Is the Congress underestimating Narendra Modi?

Who are the Bollywood actresses campaigning for the Congress?

Will the Irfan Pathan gamble cost Modi votes?

All this and more in our Gujarat Special edition of Dilli Gupshup.

Rahul Gandhi's low-key presence -- in marked contrast to his near-carpet bombing strategy in the Uttar Pradesh assembly election, where he was seen everywhere -- has let to more than a few furrowed brows.

The young Gandhi, however, seems to have a strategy in mind and he is keeping a close tab on the state's assembly polls.

Each day, the Congress's war room housed at 15, Gurudwara Rakabgunj Road, New Delhi, prepares a detailed analysis that is then circulated to top-ranking party officials including Rahul, Sonia Gandhi, her political secretary Ahmed Patel (who's fighting to retain his hold on Bharuch) and Digvijaya Singh.

On an average, Rahul is spending five to six hours a day monitoring the Gujarat polls. He apparently analyses even minute inputs about the campaigning, talking points, media watch and resource mobilisation.

Click on NEXT to find out whether the Congress is underestimating Narendra Modi...


Image: (Recreated image) The Rahul Gandhi-Narendra Modi battle for Gujarat.
Photographs: Raj Patidar/ Reuters (Rahul Gandhi); Amit Dave/ Reuters (Narendra Modi)

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Is the Congress underestimating Narendra Modi?

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According to the Congress's internal assessment, Narendra Modi will not be able improve his 2007 tally of 117 seats.

A seat-by-seat assessment has pegged the Congress tally at 70, with the Modi-led BJP bagging 105.

But the North Block mandarins are unconvinced.

Senior intelligence and home ministry officials have told Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde that Modi could get 130 seats.

Last heard, Shinde was wondering how he could gently break this news to his political masters.

Click on NEXT to find out why Maharashtra's chief minister had to use his persuasive skills with Ameesha Patel...


Image: Sonia Gandhi campaigns in Rajkot.
Photographs: Amit Dave/ Reuters

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Ameesha Patel, Raveena Tandon to the Congress's rescue!

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Narendra Modi's campaign gameplan has given the Congress quite a headache.

The Gujarat strongman is travelling to as many places as possible, making umpteen pit stops and accepting thousands of garlands.

The Congress, meanwhile, is struggling to find the right campaigners to combat Modi's charisma.

Several Bollywood stars, including Shah Rukh Khan and Salman Khan, were sounded out for the role, but they politely declined.

Congress managers then had to fall back on the likes of Raveena Tandon and Ameesha Patel; even they had to be persuaded to take on the task.

Apparently, it took the combined persuasive skills of Union Minister Rajeev Shukla, actor and Congress MP Raj Babbar and Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan to win over them.

Click on NEXT to find out why the RSS-VHP is worried about Irfan Pathan...


Image: Ameesha Patel has agreed to campaign for the Congress.
Photographs: Pradeep Bandekar

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Modi's Pathan gamble!

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Eyebrows have been raised over the inclusion of cricketer Irfan Pathan as a campaigner for the BJP in Gujarat.

The reason has nothing to do with his skills as a cricketer or his popularity... it's his religion.

Apparently, a section of the RSS-VHP is worried that Pathan's presence on the campaign trail could affect both the grassroot workers' morale and the vote bank.

Narendra Modi cheerleaders, who had hailed his refusal to accept a skull cap during the Sadbhavna Yatra not too long ago, insist that Pathan's campaign will not result in votes.

The cricketer's presence has also led to other questions, including liberals within the BJP who wonder why Modi had vetoed a proposal to field a token Muslim candidate as a BJP nominee.

Click on NEXT to find out how Modi made Ahmed Patel change his ways...


Image: Irfan Pathan campaigns with Narendra Modi.
Photographs: Courtesy: narendramodi.in

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How Modi made Ahmed Patel change his ways

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Sonia Gandhi's political secretary Ahmed Patel is trying hard to retain his hold over home district Bharuch.

In 2007, the Congress had won two of the five assembly segments in Bharuch.

This time around, Modi has repeatedly picked on Patel, calling him names and mocking the otherwise suave and sober Patel.

Patel has uncharacteristically sought to get even; he is campaigning aggressively and is even giving media interviews, a practice he has consciously avoided all these years.

No wonder then, both the Congress and the BJP are keeping an eye on this rather interesting battle.


Image: Sonia Gandhi's political advisor Ahmed Patel hopes to retain his hold over Bharuch.
Photographs: Reuben NV/Rediff.com

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