When BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi visits the office of the District Election Officer in Vadodara on April 9, he will be accompanied by a modest chaiwala. Kiran Mahida, a 49-year-old tea vendor, says he has lost sleep waiting for the big day when he will sign on Modi’s nomination form as a “proposer”. Mahida, who runs a tea stall in the city, has been asked to accompany Modi, along with three other proposers, to sign on his nomination forms.
“Senior party leader told me two days ago that I might accompany Modi when he visits the city to submit his nomination form. I have lost my sleep waiting for the day. I cannot express my happiness now that this has been confirmed,” an excited Mahida says. His Sree Tea Stall, situated just opposite the office of the municipal corporation in Khanderao Market locality in Vadodara, is a spot where “chai pe charcha” among BJP party workers is a daily affair. Mahida shares a long relation with the party: he joined it way back in 1985, when he was just 20.
The party apparently decided on his name to play on Modi’s famed image as a chaiwala during his childhood days. Mahida will accompany Modi, along with Rajmata Shubhangini Raje Gaekwad, wife of Late Maharaja Ranjitsinh Gaekwad of the erstwhile Baroda state, as well as wife of late Makrand Desai, who served as the party’s state president. BJP’s first city president Bhupendra Patel will also accompany Modi.
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They will sign on Modi’s four separate nomination forms as “proposers”. As a rule, a candidate can file four separate nomination forms, each required to have a signature of a proposer.
“I joined the party in 1985 and became an active member after the issue of Ram Mandir in Ayodhya came up and the party led an agitation in 1992. I have served the party as a dedicated member and this is a recognition of my long service to the party,” Mahida says. “The ery fact that Modi was also a chaiwala like me makes me feel one with him. He is an inspiration for millions of Indians today. It is a matter of immense pride that I will accompany him to file the nomination form.”
Mahida was asked to serve the party at local level in 2000. He became the party’s general secretary at ward level, serving tea for three years before he was made the president of a local corporation unit. He is currently serving as the party’s supply advisory committee. Asked how he is preparing for the Wednesday function, Mahida says he will be dressed simply to appear natural as a chaiwala. “It is my life’s dream to have a photograph clicked with Modi. The only thing I would take away from the function is a memory of the moment and a photograph with him which I will get enlarged and framed as one of life’s best memories,” he says. Mahida serves around 100 cups of tea every day in the civic office opposite his stall.