Ending his high-octane campaign for the second and final phase of the Gujarat Assembly elections Tuesday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi boarded a seaplane from the Sabarmati Riverfront — the BJP’s symbol of vikas in the state — to fly a route that touched several constituencies and gave him a vehicle to drive home his message.
The seaplane took off from the Sardar Patel bridge side around 11 am to land at Dharoi Dam site in Mehsana around 11.25 am in Sabarkantha district. Modi then left for Ambaji temple in Banaskantha district by road.
Modi flew back to Ahmedabad by 3 pm, landing on the Sabarmati again, after which the plane circled the river and flew along the east bank which comes under the Jamalpur-Khadia constituency where the BJP is facing a tough fight. People shouted “Modi Modi,” released saffron and green balloons as the plane cruised on the surface of the water. Finally, Modi emerged amid beating of drums, wearing the red khes of the Ambaji temple.
Speaking at the last public meeting on the riverfront Monday evening, Modi had said: “This (seaplane) is a first experiment in Hindustan. It is an experiment to strengthen tourism in future. Actually, BJP wanted me to do a roadshow tomorrow. But the administration has not given permission. And I have time, so decided to take blessings of Ma Amba. I have not visited Ma Amba after becoming Prime Minister and therefore I want to go there tomorrow. So this experiment of sea-plane (is) also with the blessings of Ma Amba.” Opinion | PM’s Gujarat campaign shows the politics of hope has been replaced entirely by the politics of fear
In an election where the Congress is banking on what it hopes is a coalition of the disgruntled and a patchwork of castes, Modi reached out to OBCs (Baxi Panch) today through the Baxi panch morcha at the district, mandal and shakti Kendra levels via audio from the party headquarters in Kamalam, Gandhinagar.
His message to partymen: “I come from a lower (chhota samaaj) section of society, have grown up among the lower sections of society and so would like to do big works for them.”
Banaskantha district has a significant OBC majority and is a district where Congress won five of nine seats in the 2012 Assembly election. The BJP is hoping to break into this Congress bastion.
Appealing to Gujaratis to strengthen his government at the Centre, Modi tweeted “No Gujarati will let go of a golden opportunity of development of our youth and coming generations. Victory of BJP is a guarantee for a bright future…With the Government of India and Government of Gujarat working together, the strength rises manifold. This 1+1 is not 2 but 11 and together we will take Gujarat to new heights”.
Earlier, Modi told his party members via the audio link: “Former governments gave lectures on Mandal Commission but did nothing. Banks, insurance companies and even PSUs like ONGC had no provisions for OBCs. We brought about regulations so that OBCs got equal opportunity be it the Thakors, or the Prajapatis. We cannot have any section of the Baxi panch community lagging behind”.
He added: “Recently we have taken up the huge task of dividing the OBCs into sub-categories for which a commission of retired judges has been set up. This is to ensure equal opportunity to all OBC categories. The commission will submit its report soon”.
Both BJP and Congress, in their manifestos, made special references to nomadic and denotified tribes under the OBC category. The BJP promised to “build them pucca houses” and provide hawking zones to those earning a livelihood selling wares on handcarts.
The Congress has promised to appoint a commission to consider giving them a separate quota. Both the parties are looking at consolidating OBC votes which make up at least 40 per cent of the total electorate.
Signing off his Gujarat campaign with a series of tweets, Modi urged people to vote for the BJP and said: “I am devoting my life for the betterment of crores of people of Gujarat and India.” He also took on the Congress: “The lies that our worthy opponents have spread, about Gujarat, Gujarat’s growth and about me personally is something I had never imagined. It is natural for every Gujarati to feel hurt. People of Gujarat will give a fitting reply to the negativity and lies of the opposition”.
The second and final phase of voting which will take place on December 14 will cover 93 Assembly seats. The first phase, covering 89 seats, took place on December 9. The results will be declared on December 18.