During the first phase of the assembly elections in Gujarat, PM Modi conducts a large roadshow in Ahmedabad.
Ahmedabad came to a stop on Thursday as Prime Minister Narendra Modi travelled through the city's streets in a spectacular display of his strength and popularity as Gujaratis cast their votes in the first round of assembly elections.
Out of the 182 seats, 89 seats were up for election. Except for a few instances where the EVMs had problems, there have been no significant unforeseen events recorded in these constituencies. At 104 locations, the Election Commission has received accusations of fraudulent voting.
With the opposition Congress and the Arvind Kejriwal-led Aam Aadmi Party, the BJP is engaged in a three-way race.
Earlier in the day, Modi had urged voters to cast their ballots in big numbers, particularly first-time voters. Then he spoke to gatherings of the general people at Kalol, Chhotaudepur, and Himmatnagar.
His pushpanjali yatra started over two hours later than expected. But it got off to a fast start. On his nearly 40 kilometre long road show, he received warm welcomes at 35 locations. He decorated the sculptures of Pandit Deendayal Upadhyay, Netaji Subhashchandra Bose, and Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel.
Modi rode in an open jeep while donning a BJP hat. There were people on each side of the roadways to welcome him and capture the spectacle as the jeep decorated with flowers proceeded slowly from the eastern section of the city to the upscale western half.
Lights blasted from the vehicle so that the prime minister could be seen by the public as the sun sank and darkness overtook the highways. As Modi waved to the audience, people turned on their cellphone torches and showered him with petals. Nobody else was in the jeep but his security men.
His rally was a first of its kind and his road display included six assembly parts. Even when he was Gujarat's chief minister, he had never organised such a significant road show all at once.
The goal of Modi's performance on Thursday is to energise voters for the second round of voting on December 5. According to early results that are starting to come in, voting in the first round was up to 10% lower on some seats than it was in 2017.
Amit Shah, the union minister of the interior, also conducted public events throughout Gujarat on Thursday.
At today's road show, Modi has not yet halted. Four public gatherings in North Gujarat, Ahmedabad, and Central Gujarat are on his agenda.
Meanwhile, Congress officials gave public speeches and Kejriwal participated in a road show throughout the state. They couldn't have competed with the PM's overwhelming level of popular support, though. Towards the tail end of the road performance, the response only grew stronger.
Political parties are worried about the first-phase voter participation's low turnout compared to 2017, especially given this election's high-pitched campaign and the presence of a new party.
Harsh Sanghvi, Purshottam Solanki, Kumar Kanani, and Jitu Vaghani from the BJP; Arjun Modhwadia, Paresh Dhanani, and Indranil Rajyaguru from the Congress; and Isudan Ghadvi, Alpesh Kathiriya, and Gopal Italia from the AAP are a few well-known figures whose fates have been sealed in the EVMs.