HOARDINGS at 35 locations, five gate structures, nine arch-shaped gate structures, 600 cutouts displaying government schemes, and recarpeted roads. Surat Municipal Corporation has laid out the red carpet, and private companies have pitched in with cutouts and fibre-glass statues of own, as Prime Minister Narendra Modi comes to the city on Sunday evening.
With the Patidars planning to hold protests, police have detained over 1,600 listed criminals as “preventive measure”.
The BJP-ruled corporation claims to have spent Rs 4-5 crore on the preparations. Surat Municipal Standing Committee chairman Rajesh Desai said, “SMC is a semi-government organisation, and keeping in mind the protocol of the Prime Minister, it has to do such things. The Prime Minister has attachment with the people of Surat. He is coming to Surat so people are enthralled about welcoming him, and SMC is a part of it.”
In what is the BJP’s strongest pitch for the influential Patidar community in Gujarat yet, ahead of the Assembly elections, Modi will be inaugurating a hospital in Surat on Monday built by a Patidar community trust whose president is diamond baron and private airline owner Lalji Patel, who had bought the monogrammed suit the PM wore to the meeting with former US president Barack Obama. He will also address the Patidar community and inaugurate a diamond hub owned by Savji Dholakia, also a Patidar and one of the country’s largest diamond exporters, where he will address over 10,000 diamond workers.
Later, he will address tribal meetings.
The BJP, which has hired a Bengaluru firm for a 3D mapping show and has planned a bicycle rally, said over a thousand “burqa-clad” women will line the route that Modi takes from Surat airport on Sunday evening. Surat and Navsari BJP MP C R Patil said, “Many Muslim women had contacted me and showed their eagerness to welcome the Prime Minister. We appreciated their gesture and had assured them they will be taken from a fixed location and left at a prescribed place near Surat airport so that they could see the Prime Minister and welcome him. There will be over 1,250 Muslim women, a majority of them dressed in burqa.”
Surat Municipal Commissioner M Thennarasan said they had also decorated the traffic islands and removed road encroachments along the PM’s route, while arrangements have been made for the people to see the convoy.
Among the private entreprenuers who have pitched in to welcome Modi is the real-estate Rajhans (Desai-Jain) Group, which has erected a 30-ft-tall Modi cutout, holding a broom, amidst many other giant brooms, on a traffic island. Group partner Jayesh Desai said they wanted to spread the message of Clean India and Clean Surat.
The Hardik Patel-led Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti has said it would hold protests, and police said they were monitoring the situation.