In an attack on political rivals and those opposing the Centre’s demonetisation drive, BJP national president Amit Shah Friday said people were happy with the scrapping of high-value notes and maintained no one would ever need black money if society comes together.
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Speaking at a mass marriage ceremony of Ahir community organised at Ghodadara area here in Surat, the BJP chief said a “huge controversy” has been created out of the cash crunch post demonetisation of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes. Praising the community, Shah said, “Marriages are in news because of demonetisation and at such a time the Ahir community has shown the way by organising this mass marriage of 229 couples. If a community unites, there is no need for black money and this is the best example.” Mentioning former CM Anandiben Patel, Shah said, “Under the leadership of Narendrabhai Modi, our country is progressing rapidly and Anandiben and Vijaybhai (Rupani) have taken the state forward from where Narendra bhai left.”
Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) Gujarat president Kanu Kalsariya and Congress MLA from Jam Khambhaliya Meraman Gheewala shared the stage with Shah at the event. Incidentally, nine Congressmen were detained when they showed black flags to Shah when he was on his way to the venue. Kalsariya and Gheewala are from the Ahir community of cowherds, equivalent to Yadavs in north India.
Even as AAP, led by Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal, and the party has openly supported quota demand by the Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS), Kalsariya, who also spoke at the event, defended his presence saying it was a “non-political”event. When contacted, he told this paper, “I was invited by the trustee of the Ahir Samaj as it was our community programme. This is the fifth community marriage programme I have attended in Surat.”
Gheewala defended his presence by saying that he was one of the trustees of the Surat Ahir Samaj and that his family had been pioneers of the mass marriage programme. “I and my family members also have donated funds. We started with seven marriages earlier. Now, with the 24th mass marriage programe, we are getting 229 couples married. This is a non-political programme.”
Asked about his partymen showing black flags to Shah, Gheewala said, “The Congress leaders had shown black flag to Shah’s convoy as part of the political strategy of the Surat unit of the Congress.”
Speaking on the demonetisation at the event, CM Vijay Rupani said, “I think one thing is lacking in the mass marriage programme: the couples should have been given credit cards because after demonetisation, card transactions are the demand of the future.” Deputy CM Nitin Patel, BJP MP Poonam Madam, State BJP president Jitubhai Vaghani were among the BJP leaders present on stage.