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| Last Updated:22/04/2014

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Advani limits Modi talk, dwells on sanitation

Mohua Chatterjee, TNN, 22 April 2014


GANDHINAGAR: BJP patriarch LK Advani is at home in his constituency. The April heat doesn't bother him. Barring 1996, when he didn't contest because of hawala charges, he has contested in this urban seat fi ve times since 1991. Advani is 87 and seeking a sixth term here. On Sunday, he's on a day trip that began at 9am in Delhi and ends at 10.30pm, when he gets back home after meetings and a road show.


Early next morning, he'd fl y to Vellore, Tamil Nadu, to campaign. The former deputy PM says he has in some way or other participated in all general elections since 1952. Today, it is more Advani's family that takes care of his constituency. The patriarch makes weekly trips to Gandhinagar, spends a day or two. Since the nominations were fi led, his son Jayant and daughter Pratibha have been here and Advani has held road shows in most of the six assembly segments in his constituency, an extension of Ahmedabad — the NaMo city.


"It is amazing what he (Modi) has done," says Advani as he talks of the revival of the Sabarmati that cuts through the city. Neat embankments line the river with walkways alongside. Some years ago, the river hardly had any water. Advani's cavalcade crosses the Sabarmati Bridge and races to Gandhinagar from the airport. Advani's campaign is no longer about votes. He talks larger issues. Given the sour Modi-Advani equation that played out before nominations, the veteran avoids talking local politics or mentioning his party's PM candidate.


"There has to be compulsory voting... many democracies have it and in some countries if people don't exercise their franchise, their votes are cancelled," he says quoting examples. He mentions Modi government's attempt to get a similar legislation passed in the assembly, a fi rst in the country that the governor hasn't signed so far. The moment he mentions Modi, the 500-odd Rajpath Club crowd applauds.


Earlier, Advani talked of sanitation for all. The only other issue he touches upon is the UPA government's failure and how Congress would perform poorly in these elections. On other days when Advani isn't in town, the daily campaign is led by either Jayant or Pratibha.


Local MLAs, councillors and others come along. Canvassing begins at 8.30am and winds up at 12.30pm. They go door-to-door. "The afternoon heat is too much for either voters or campaigners to be out," Jayant says. They resume at 5pm and go on till 11pm. Pratibha focuses on women's and youth groups. "People treat us like family. I also feel a sense of belonging, as my grandfather fi rst came to Gujarat from Sindh," says Pratibha.