Former Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav on Friday took a dig at Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP over the ‘Gujarat model of development’. Taking a jibe at the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) dispensation at the state and the Centre, Yadav asked it to tell people how many roads are there in Gujarat where Indian Air Force can land its jets. Yadav, who is in Ahmedabad, was referring to the Lucknow-Agra Expressway that was opened during his tenure as CM in state. Fighter aircraft of the Indian Air Force (IAF) performed breathtaking touch-and-go landings on a stretch of the Lucknow-Agra Expressway, displaying the force’s capability to use highways in case of emergency. The verbal duel between Yadav and PM Modi escalated during UP Assembly elections that took place earlier this year. While, PM Modi led BJP to a historic mandate, Akhilesh had gone through a public conflict with uncle Shivpal Yadav. First Phase of polling will be held tomorrow, followed by second one on December 14. Results will be declared on December 18.
Over a dozen IAF planes, including Mirage 2000, Sukhoi-30 MKI fighters and C-130J Super Hercules transport aircraft weighing 35,000 kg, took part in the three-hour-long exercise near Bangarmau in the district, about 65 km from Lucknow. The drill simulated an emergency situation when airbases, the first target of bombs and missiles, would not be available for air operations, necessitating use of highways as landing strips. This was the first time that a transport aircraft landed on a highway. Inducted into the Air Force in 2010, the plane can carry 200 commandos. Earlier, six Sukhoi-30 jets had touched down on a 3.3-km stretch of the Lucknow-Agra Expressway.
A vituperative campaign for the first phase of the crucial Gujarat Assembly polls that saw emotive issues of religion and caste competing with that of development as the main rivals, BJP and Congress, launched no-holds-barred attacks on each other ended this evening. The sparring between the two parties while canvassing for the polls, dubbed as a prestige battle for Prime Minister Narendra Modi and a litmus test for the leadership of soon-to-be Congress chief Rahul Gandhi, continued till the very end with Manishankar Aiyar’s “neech aadmi” jibe at Modi triggering a controversy.
A total of 89 seats — out of 182 — spanning the Saurashtra and south Gujarat regions, are up for grabs in the first phase with 977 candidates in the fray, including Chief Minister Vijay Rupani. Gujarat Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) B B Swain said around 2.12 crore of the 4.35 crore voters of the state were expected to exercise their franchise on Saturday.
The Election Commission (EC) had earlier announced that Gujarat would be the second state after Goa where the voter verifiable paper audit trail (VVPAT) system would be used, along with electronic voting machines (EVMs), at all the 50,128 polling booths.