Amid the row over the "delay" in announcement of the Gujarat Assembly polls, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will travel to home state on Sunday where he will inaugurate and lay the foundation stones of a number of projects.
It would be Modi's third visit to Gujarat this month. Modi, who recently said the Legislative Assembly polls will be a battle between "vikaswad" and "vanshwad", in which his "development agenda" will triumph over the Congress' "dynastic politics", will lay the foundation of and dedicate to people projects worth rupees several thousand crore in Bhavnagar and Vadodara districts.
Two days before he undertakes the visit, Congress leader P Chidambaram today scoffed at the Election Commission for not announcing the schedule for the Gujarat polls, saying it has "authorised" the prime minister to declare the dates at his "last rally" in the state.
In a series of tweets loaded with sarcasm, the former finance and home minister also claimed that the Election Commission will be "recalled" from its "extended holiday" after the Gujarat government has announced all "concessions and freebies".
"EC has authorised PM to announce date of Gujarat elections at his last rally (and kindly keep EC informed)," he tweeted.
The EC had on October 12 announced that polling for the assembly elections in Himachal Pradesh will take place on November 9, but held off announcing the Gujarat schedule, only saying the polling in the western state would be held before December 18.
Immediately therafter, the Congress had alleged that the government put "pressure" on the poll panel to "delay" the announcement of Gujarat elections to enable the prime minister to act as a "false santa claus" and offer sops, use "jumlas" (rhetoric).
The model code of conduct would have come into immediate effect in Gujarat had the poll schedule been announced along with Himachal Pradesh, the party said.
Among the projects that Modi will inaugurate is the first phase of the Rs 615 crore roll-on roll-off (ro-ro) ferry service between Ghogha in Bhavnagar district and Dahej in Bharuch in the Gulf of Cambay.
The prime minister had called ferry service his "dream project" while addressing a gathering at Gandhinagar on Monday.
He will address a gathering in Ghogha and undertake a journey to Dahej from Ghogha on the ferry. From Dahej, he will leave for Vadodara, where he is scheduled to inaugurate and lay the foundation stones for projects worth over Rs 1,140 crore.
Ajay Bhadoo, Chief Executive Officer of Gujarat Maritime Board, which is executing the ro-ro project, said the first phase of the service to be inaugurated by Modi on Sunday is meant for passengers.
In the second phase, which is expected to be completed in two months, cars can also be carried between the two towns. "It is a complex project which involves complicated marine structure of the Gulf of Cambay, on which it is built. The service reduces the distance between the two towns from 310 kilometres by road to 30 kilometres which can be covered in 1 hour," Bhadoo said.
Modi had laid the foundation stone for the project in January 2012, when he was the chief minister of Gujarat. In Vadodara, Modi will inaugurate eight different projects worth Rs 1,140 crore.
Vadodara Municipal Commissioner Vinod Rao said Modi will dedicate to people a Rs 100 crore city command and control centre in Badamadi Garden, Rs 125-crore Janmahal city transport hub and multi-level parking (under PPP), a Rs 160 crore multi-modal city transport hub, Rs 267 crore waste-to-energy processing plant.
The other projects are a Rs 166 crore water treatment plant, two flyovers collectively worth Rs 265 crore, a Rs 55 crore deer safari park, and a Rs 6 crore veterinary hospital. He will also address people at Navlakhi compound in Vadodara.
Modi had last visited Vadodara, a constituency from where he contested the 2014 Lok Sabha election and won by a record margin, on October 22 last year to inaugurate a new airport terminal building and distribute assistance devices to the divyangjan (specially-abled) people.
Modi, who won from both Vadodara and Varanasi, later chose to retain the latter.
The prime minister had visited Gujarat on Monday this week when he addressed the BJP workers at a rally in Gandhinagar.
Prior to that, Modi had visited his home town Vadnagar on October 8 and also inaugurated and laid foundation stones of various projects in Rajkot, Vadnagar, Gandhinagar, and Bharuch. He has been frequently visiting the state, which goes to polls in December this year.