Amid the heat of the Gujarat polls, cyclone Ockhi, eddying menacingly towards the state’s coast, poured cold water on the campaigning today, forcing cancellation of rallies of several top leaders, including those by BJP chief Amit Shah and Congress leader Rahul Gandhi.
Shah’s poll rallies scheduled today in Rajula town of Amreli and Mahuva and Shihor of Bhavnagar district have been cancelled, a party release said. Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi held a poll rally in Anjar but cancelled three in Morbi, Dhrangadhra and Surendranagar due to the impending cyclone.
BJP MP Manoj Tiwari’s roadshow in Bapunagar area of Ahmedabad was also cancelled due to light showers since early morning, Bapunagar MLA Jagroopsinh Rajput said.
The BJP has also called off rallies and press conferences of Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath in Surat today, a party leader said.
Former Congress strongman Shankersinh Vaghela, who floated his ‘Jan Vikalp’ front, was also forced to cancel his roadshows and rallies that were to be held in Junagadh, and Mahuva and Palitana towns of Saurashtra, a leader of his outfit said.
Though Vaghela was supposed to reach Surat tonight, he dropped his plan due to the approaching cyclone.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Narendra Modi appealed to the Gujarat BJP workers to focus on providing assistance to the people likely to be hit by the cyclonic storm.
“With CycloneOckhi expected to make a landfall in Gujarat, I appeal to BJP Gujarat Karyakartas (workers) to focus on helping people across the state. Our Karyakartas should devote themselves to providing all possible assistance and stand shoulder to shoulder with fellow citizens,” Modi tweeted.
Inspired by his tweet, BJP leaders in Surat suspended all their campaign-related work and began shifting people to safer places, the ruling party MLA from Surat’s Majura seat, Harsh Sanghvi, said.
“We have decided not to do any kind of campaigning until the effect of cyclone remains. Since this morning, all our workers have spread across the city to help people. We are moving them to safer locations. During this work, we will not wear any scarves having BJP’s election symbol,” Sanghvi said.
The latest weather forecast said cyclone Ockhi has moved closer to the southern coast and is about 390 kms from Surat.