Popatbhai Rathva’s wife sits before a woodfire chulha on the mud-plastered floor of her kitchen of exposed brick walls, preparing meal for a special guest, BJP president Amit Shah, who is scheduled to arrive here on Wednesday as part of the party’s ongoing booth-level vistarak programme. A freshly-built concrete toilet block stands just outside the house in Devaliya village with a white ceramic washbasin, erected for the visit. The LPG bottle connected to the gas stove in the kitchen is a temporary arrangement till the lunch is served to the special guest.
The excitement about the Shah’s visit to the home of Rathvas, a senior BJP worker and tribal farmer, is palpable. Party leaders have been visiting his home to ensure everything goes well. “We were told about the visit of Amit Shahji around 10 days ago. We have not made any special arrangement, apart from building a new toilet and washbasin for the guest,” Malkhabhai Rathva, cousin of Popat, said. Popat, meanwhile, remained busy in party meetings.
“On Monday, they (panchayat) began the construction work for the toilet and they completed it today… Though we have toilets for our family in the backyard, a new one was built for the guest near by the entrance of the house so that guest can access it easily,” said Popat’s son Atul. Women were busy arranging vegetables for the meal which is going to be typically “adivasi”. Popat’s mother said, “We are preparing a staple tribal meal for the guest which will include makkai na rotla (maize flour bread), vada (dumplings) and dry tuver bhaaji.”
Though the Rathvas have applied for a LPG connection, it has not yet come through. The largest room in the house has been readied with a table and chair for Shah to dine. “We have been working for the BJP for many years. This is the first time that such a senior party leader is visiting our home. We are excited to welcome him,” said Malkhabhai.