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Lok Sabha Polls 2014: Vadodara goes all out to ensure maximum voter turnout

From once-flourishing state and subsequently hub of PSUs and engineering companies, Baroda has seen cities like Rajkot race ahead of it.

Updated: Apr 29, 2014, 11.43 AM IST
(This story originally appeared in on Apr 29, 2014)
VADODARA: For some time now, Gujarat's 'Sanskarnagari' has not had a reason to celebrate . From a once-flourishing state ruled by the Gaekwads and subsequently a hub of PSUs and engineering companies, Baroda has seen cities like Rajkot and Surat race ahead of it.

This election promises to change all that. Narendra Modi's candidature has come as an adrenalin dose. And state power minister and Modi's trusted lieutenant Saurabh Patel, who is spearheading the campaign, is confident this seat will record the highest polling percentage among 26 Lok Sabha seats in Gujarat.

The confidence stems from a surprise push from individuals , academic institutions , industry bodies and voluntary organizations. Most of these organizations do not openly endorse any political party but are exhorting Barodians to come out and vote. A group of over a dozen such organisations led by the reputed Baroda Citizens Council has launched a 'Vote Vadodara Vote' campaign, with a target of making the constituency the Maximum City in terms of voter turnout on April 30.

"There are good vibes all around. Different industrial bodies that worked independent of one another have joined hands. The Baroda Citizens Council is coordinating efforts for various programmes," says Amit Goradia, a leading businessman and trustee of Baroda Citizens Council. There are more than 1,000 hoardings dotting the city skyline asking people to go out and vote.

These groups—representing rickshaw drivers to builders , from schools and universities to trade bodies—are striving for a 100% voter turnout . "Even if we touch 75%, it will be a big leap forward considering the dismal 49% in 2009," he says.

Business houses are offering a day's salary as a sop to a staffer whose entire family votes. Fuel stations have promised to provide buttermilk and sherbet to voters who brave the heat on Wednesday—polling day. Those who are not capable of moving out on their own or are sick have the option of using a free ambulance service.

"Since Sayajirao Gaekwad, the city has not seen a role model in any leader. The idea of a big leader contesting from the city itself is the driving force for a lot of individuals," said businessman AmitBhatnagar.

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