Narendra Modi today filed his nomination from Vadodara, formally launching his bid for a maiden entry into the Lok Sabha and steering his party and NDA to power at the Centre.
Shortly afterwards, 63-year-old BJP's prime ministerial contender made a pitch for "good governance" and recalled his old association with the region once ruled by the Gaekwards, one of whom proposed his candidacy.
Vadodara will witness a three-way contest as Modi takes on Congress general secretary Madhusudan Mistry, a confidante of party vice president Rahul Gandhi, while AAP has fielded a local candidate Sunil Kulkarni, a mechanical engineer.
Modi's nomination for the April 30 poll was preceded by an impressive road show, which saw his cavalcade crawl its way through the streets of Vadodara as a sea of BJP workers, supporters and onlookers cheered the leader.
As the procession traversed some areas inhabited by Muslims, a large number of people from the community were seen coming out to greet Modi.
The filing of nomination by Modi was high on symbolism, with a humble tea vendor Kiran Mahida and Shubhanginidevi Raje Gaekwad of the erstwhile royalty of Baroda, a clan that had ruled the princely state from early 18th century till Independence, being among the proposers.
During his high-pitch campaign in the last few months, Modi has often referred to his humble 'chaiwalla' background while targeting the Congress.
Soon after filing the nomination, he briefly addressed the media and lauded the "suraj and sushasan" (good governannce) of Gaekwads, who had ruled Vadodara and described the region as his "karmabhoomi".
"The name of Gaekwads will be written in golden letters for good governance and welfare of the people ....Vadodrara has been my 'karmbhoomi'....I am grateful to the people of Vadodara for the grand welcome they have accorded to me.
"I have benefited immensely from the institutions established by the Gaekwads in Vadodara. I have got my primary education also in a school established by the Gaekwads," he said.
This was Modi's first visit to Vadodara constituency after BJP decided to field him from the seat besides Varanasi, which goes to poll on May 12.
Balkrishna Shukla, a sitting BJP MP, who vacated his Vadodara seat in favour of Modi, filed his papers as a dummy candidate.
Congress has fielded sitting MLA Ajay Rai against Modi from Varanasi while Arvind Kejriwal is contesting from there as AAP candidate.