With Surat having a significant number of migrants from states like Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Jharkhand, the BJP has roped in 14 newly elected mayors from UP to campaign in the district where the ruling party is facing a lot of heat from the Patidars as well as textile and diamond traders.
Besides the 14 mayors, the BJP has roped in its winning local body candidates from Amethi, the Lok Sabha constituency of Congress president Rahul Gandhi.
“Through newspapers, we have read that Rahulji while campaigning in Gujarat speaks about development… Still, in Amethi, there is no district headquarters building. After we came to power in Uttar Pradesh, and through personal interest of (BJP chief) Amit Shah and (Union minister) Smriti Irani, development in Amethi started. Our national president had laid foundation stone of the district headquarters in Amethi, and started different schemes there… now, the true development of Amethi has started,” said Mahendra Nath Pandey, BJP president in Uttar Pradesh and MP from Chandauli.
He said: “The reason for bringing elected local representatives from UP, especially Amethi, to Surat is that we wanted to show people clear picture of development in Amethi. After seven months of development, people there voted BJP in the local body elections.”
The BJP leader noted that a large number of people from Uttar Pradesh live in Gujarat, most of them in Surat, Vapi, Umargam, Vadodara, Ahmedabad, Jamnagar, Surendranagar, Kalol and Halol.
“We have come to Surat to meet people from Uttar Pradesh, and appeal them to vote for the BJP,” he said. In Surat, there are around 13 lakh migrants, whose votes would be crucial for the BJP to overcome Patidars’ and traders’ anger and win the Assembly elections in the district, which has 16 Assembly seats.
Ahead of the last day of campaigning on Thursday for the first phase of Assembly elections on December 9, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath was also in Guajrat and held poll rallies.
The mayors joining the BJP campaign in Surat are Sanjiv Valya (Saharanpur), Asha Sharma (Ghaziabad), Vinod Arya (Moradabad), Umesh Gautam (Bareilly), Navin Jain (Agra), Mukesh (Mathura), Nutan Rathod (Firozabad), Premila Pandey (Kanpur), Ramtirth Sinhal (Jhansi), Abhilasha Gupta (Allahabad), Sanyukta Bhatiya (Lucknow), Rushikesh Upadhyay (Faizabad), Sitaram Jaiswal (Gorakhpur) and Mrudula Jaiswal(Varanasi).
Mahesh Pratap Sonkar, chairperson-elect of Jais Nagarpalika Parishad in Amethi, and Rajesh Masala, the husband of Amethi nagar panchayat head Chandrama Devi, will also join the campaign.
Speaking with The Indian Express, Sonkar said, “On my seat, over 60 per cent voters are Muslims, while nearly 35 per cent are Dalits. The reason they voted for BJP is that they wanted development. Majority of the voters feel that under BJP rule, they will see development in the area. The Congress leaders come and go… they never try resolve issues faced by the locals.”
He further added, “Their forefathers got elected from Amethi, and became PM… what development they have done in our areas? They have not started factories and industries in Amethi and as a result thousands of people from Amethi come to Surat to work…. There is no hospital, no road connectivity and no education facility in Amethi. I have come here ask people in Surat to compare development in Surat with that in Amethi.”