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When the BJP embarks on the Kisan Hit Yatra in Rajkot on Friday in the run up to the Assembly polls,it will be for the first time in the recent past that Chief Minister Narendra Modi will not be at the helm of a party drive.
Two years after he became state BJP chief,R C Faldu is the chosen one when it comes to reaching out to the farmers of villages in Saurashtra and north Gujarat to create awareness among them against the alleged injustice by the central government.
For the three-time MLA from Kalavad in Jamnagar district,this is the first time that he will be leading such a big yatra. A special motorised rath has been designed and teams have been designated as Faldu will tour across rural areas a privilege that so far was available only to Modi and senior party leader L K Advani.
Other leaders like former state president Purshottam Rupala,Vaju Vala and Saurabh Patel have played second fiddle on many occasions,but none of them led a yatra as important as this one.
On Friday,Modi and Rupala will be present at the inaugural function.
Faldus background makes him an obvious choice for the task. For starters,he is a farmer. Secondly,he is a Leuva Patel,a farmers community with a strong political clout. Besides,if Kadvas the other Patel community have always been seen tilting toward the BJP,the Leuvas have become hard to woo after the unceremonious ouster of their tallest leader Keshubhai Patel to pave way for Modi.
The result: the party won just one of the three Levua-dominated seats in the last Lok Sabha elections.
He is one of the most low profile leaders in the state BJP and among the few soft spoken leaders,with excellent command over Gujarati. And now in this election year,the Kisan Hit Yatra will project Faldu as a farmer as well as a Leuva Patel leader.
Readying for the new task,Faldu said The challenge is to reach out to the farmers with the party message. I can do it because I am a farmer.
A day before his yatra,Faldu was armed with several data and figures. We will go out with a message to provide one lakh electricity connections to farmers per year. In the next three years,the state government will sanction three lakh new connections, he said.
Faldu made it clear that he would focus on the UPAs anti-farmers policy vis-a-vis cotton export. Cotton export ban,which affected the Gujarat farmers badly,is the highlight of the yatra. Farmers should be aware that how their rights have been curbed and growth suppressed with the ban on export of cotton for no reason at all, said Faldu.