Hundreds of people, children and grown-ups alike, waited eagerly at Sabarmati Riverfront in Ahmedabad and Dharoi Dam on the border of Mehsana and Sabarkantha districts to see Prime Minister Narendra Modi fly on a seaplane as he wrapped up the Gujarat poll campaign on Tuesday.
Modi boarded the seaplane from the Sabarmati riverfront at 11 am and landed at Dharoi Dam at 11.25 am before coming back to Ahmedabad in the afternoon.
Apart from Modi and the seaplane, two Canadian pilots were also the star attractions.
Waiting to receive Modi at the dam site was Ahmedabad-based Himanshu Patel, managing director of a private company that has signed a Memorandum of Understanding of worth Rs 2,000 crore with Gujarat government to explore and develop water sports and tourism in the state.
Patel said that the seaplane was hired from a Canadian company, which also sent the pilots.
But, Modi’s declaration on Monday to board a seaplane to find possibilities of strengthening tourism in the state drew hundreds at Sabarmati Riverfront and Dharoi Dam, especially children.
For Vanrajsinh Bhatesariya from Malapura village in Mehsana district it was the excitement of seeing a plane landing on water.
“I have never seen a plane landing on water. And here Modi himself will land on water. So I couldn’t have missed it. I came to know about this through news channels yesterday (Monday) night,” he said.
Asked if the seaplane is a sign of development, Bhatesariya said, “I do not know. All this is politics in the election season.”
Mahesh Modi, a resident of Mor village in neighbouring Sabarkantha district, echoed, “I have come along with my family to see Modi as I am from Vadnagar. I don’t know, if this is development, but I like this. I had never seen a plane landing on water.”
Another villager from Dharoi, who was hired to clean the nearby road, said, “At the place has been cleaned and we earned some money.”
Numerous others waited for the prime minister on his way from Dharoi Dam to Ambaji temple. However, at Satlasana village of Mehsana district, some villagers showed him black flags. Mehsana Superintendent of Police Chaitanya Mandalik confirmed, “Some three-four persons have shown black flags to the PM’s convoy. But so far, they have not been identified.”
At the Sabarmati riverfront, BJP workers and a few party candidates from Ahmedabad, including Bhupendra Patel from Ghatlodiya and sitting MLA and state Women and Child Development Minister Nirmala Wadhwani, were seen waiting for the PM.
However, for some the major attraction was the seaplane. “No, not Modiji but the seaplane. I was going to my shop in Manek Chowk when I thought of stopping over and see the seaplane, which is in news since morning,” said Dilip Vyas, a jeweller.
Similarly, a couple from nearby Kocharab area was there with their two children, aged 5 and 7 years. They managed to take position in the front along the rope, with which the area was cordoned off, to get a clear sight of the seaplane.
“We are here to show the kids seaplane. They were after me when they saw this on a local news channel in the morning. When I learnt that the PM would return in the afternoon, I brought them here,” Mahesh Parmar said, placing his son on his shoulders.
Landing between Sardar and Ellis Bridge, Modi waved at the people from his seaplane as he campaigned along the Riverfront. Even after alighting the seaplane, he stepped out on the pedestal of his vehicle and waved at his supporters as it paced off slowly for the next 200 metres.