“Kaho dil se, Himmatsinh ek bar phir se” (Say from the heart, Himmatsinh once again) were the lines the recorded message loud speakers kept on drilling into ears of passers-by during the four-hour-long road show for Himmatsinh Patel, the Congress candidate from Ahmedabad East Lok Sabha constituency.
As the air filled with this and other slogans, the procession started from Bhidbhanjan Hanuman temple at Bapunagar Char Rasta. Patel made a beginning from here by offering aarti at this temple.
Two mini-trucks ferrying powerful speakers, an open jeep with Patel and others atop and about a dozen four-wheelers and two-wheelers of his supporters were part of the campaign rally. Patel began the day from his plush house — Sooraj Bhuvan — in Sukhramnagar area. Occasionally, he used to step down from the jeep to greet people amid bursting of crackers, but the honking of the busy traffic along with rising heat pushed him further and faster.
“The local voters are angry with the BJP for importing a candidate who has no social connect with the people in the constituency,” Patel said when asked about his unique selling proposition. An old man in Nikol area urged him in an emotive tone to “please bring back the old glory of the Congress”. Patel nodded in affirmative, but with no firmness in tone.
Residents of areas like Shastri Market, Memco Road and Hirawadi interiors and some settlements of lower middle income group welcomed the four-term former municipal councillor, who was promising to solve “all the problems”.
In many areas, local residents stopped him to greet and garland, especially on Nikol Road and Shastri Market, Memco Road and Hirawadi inhabited by diamond workers. Interestingly, no names of any Congress leaders or the party itself were mentioned on the route.
It was evident that the residents of the area were BJP loyalists. Shailesh Prajapati, a shop owner at Priventi Valley Primary School near Ila Society said that the BJP had an upper hand in Thakkarbapanagar. “Compared to the Congress rally, Paresh Rawal had a larger crowd with him, but both come and go waving at people, speaking nothing much,” he said.