It was a typical BJP campaigning exercise with boisterous young party workers raising slogans at the top of their voices as their candidate for Kutch Lok Sabha seat — Vinod Chavda — took out a roadshow in the morning of the final day of campaigning in Bhuj, the district headquarters of Kutch, on Monday.
Chavda, a 35-year-old advocate and among the youngest candidates in Gujarat this time, kept his activities limited to Bhuj. He set out on foot to connect with traders and shopkeepers in Vaniyavad, the main garment market of the town. He shakes hands with vegetable vendors and tells them, “vote for the lotus”.
A party worker, with a DJ system, marches ahead of him, announcing his arrival. Party workers raise slogans of “Vande Matram” and “Vinodbhai tum agey badho, hum tumhare sath hain (Vinodbhai march forward, we are with you)”. They distribute garlands among traders, who, in turn, use those to welcome Chavda.
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Subhash Vaghri, a street vendor at a corner of Rajgulab street, wore a perplexed look after Chavda came, shook hands and hurried away to the next trader. “I don’t know his name, but I presume he is the BJP candidate for the election,” he said.
“Modi is running a good government so I will vote for the BJP. But my wife has a mind of her own so don’t know who she will oblige,” 42-year-old Vaghri said.
Meanwhile, Chavda meets traders and accepts chocolates and dry fruits and nuts. Soaked in perspiration, he halts at Limja Tea House and requests its owner Suresh Jethi to give him a cup of tea. Shailesh Chavda, Jethi’s helper, fills up his tea-dish with the hot brew. “I didn’t know Chavda before this election, but I’ll vote for the BJP because of Modi,” Jethi says.
At Chowk Faliya, novelty-store owner Nazmuddin Boghra garlands Chavda, but maintains an expressionless face. “My vote will go to the party which will work for the country. While I have not yet made up my mind so far, I agree the BJP is ahead in the race,” says the 62-year-old businessman.
Chavda also meets Paljee Bagda, a polio-affected cobbler who repairs old footwear on a footpath on Sixth Bari Ring Road to support his family of two sons, wife and mother. “I will vote for the BJP as our local councillor Jagdish Gor helps us get odd government work done,” he says.
Around 12 pm, Chavda hops on a mini truck for a roadshow, covering Station Road, Bhid Gate, Sarpat Naka, Kadva Road and Aman Nagar Road. He drives into Bhuj APMC to connect with traders there. Around 5 pm, he goes to Ganesh Nagar, a locality of Rabaris, the community of herders.
“It is a matter of pride that a common man like you has got the ticket to fight the polls. This is an opportunity to reign in inflation and end a corrupt rule. Modi will be our next PM,” he tells them.