Taking his idea of a nation-in-Gujarat further,Chief Minister Narendra Modi is set to address a series of get-togethers of various non-Gujarati communities in Surat over the next couple of months.
Apparently wary of the powerful Patel community,which did not turn up in expected numbers at his recent meetings,and of the Brahmins who did not warm up to him either,the state BJP is now looking at support from non-Gujaratis settled in Surat,like people with rights to vote from Bihar,Andhra Pradesh,Rajasthan,Orissa and Maharashtra.
The party has organised several programmes of these communities in the coming days,and most of them have Modi as the chief guest.
Last month,BJP MP Mansukh Mandavia had held a meet of the Kathiawadi community from Saurashtra,resettled in Surat. Modi was the chief guest at the function. However,not many turned up. One of the reasons,say sources,is that ex-CM Keshubhai Patel is still revered by the leuva Patels as a leader and they are reluctant to accept Modi as a community leader.
The other test was a public function of the Kathiawadis at Punagam in Surat last week. But,again the turnout was low.
The Surat city party unit has,sources said,decided to organise more public meetings with a special focus on meetings of non-Gujarati people who have settled in Surat city and are registered voters. The decision has Modis endorsement,they added.
The first such public meeting is scheduled for May 6 at Bihar Jharkhand Shatabdi Mahotsav at Udhna BRC ground,where Modi will be the chief guest.
BJP MP of Surat-Navsari seat C R Patil said,We are carrying out such programmes so that people from different states staying here feel that they are also given much importance outside their states. Also,these people are responsible for the development of the state. Our intention is to bring all these people under one umbrella and give them a proper platform. There are many issues which they can put forward before the government.
The May 6 function has been organised by Bihar Jharkhand Sewa Samithi,which was recently formed by Ajay Chaudhari who heads the Bhasha Bhasi cell of the Surat BJP.
We have decided to celebrate the Shatabdi Mahotsav of Bihar in Surat. There are lakhs of people from Bihar who have settled in Surat and we want to bring them under one umbrella. We have invited many dignitaries from Bihar,including three Padma Shris singer Udit Naryan,poet Dr Rabindra Rajhans and mountaineer Santosh Yadav, Chaudhari said.
On the same day,Modi is scheduled to attend a Telugu community function.
Later this month and in June,the city BJP unit will organise meets of people from Rajasthan,Orissa and Maharashtra,wherein Modi will be the chief guest,sources said.
Surat,which is Gujarats most cosmopolitan city due to the presence of textile,diamond and embroidery industries,has people in huge numbers from other states and many of them are registered voters.
According to sources in the district collectorate,there are estimated to be three lakh Marathi voters,two lakh from Uttar Pradesh,1.5 lakh from Rajasthan,nearly 50,000 from Bihar,35,000 from Andhra Pradesh and around 70,000 voters from Orissa.