For the 250 people who gathered at Rahul Co-operative Housing Society on Marve Road in Malad Friday, there was a sense of curiosity to see how Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) candidate for Mumbai North Lok Sabha constituency Gopal Shetty’s Chai pe Charcha (discussion over tea) would pan out.
Following the lead set by BJP prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi, who launched the Chai pe Charcha campaign across the country, Shetty and other local party workers are replicating the exercise to interact with voters in their constituencies.
Around 5pm, Shetty, along with his supporters, local corporators and other BJP leaders, reached the venue, where he was to address a gathering of over 250 local residents. Shetty immediately asked his aides to serve tea to all the people present there.
Believed to be a strong candidate in the constituency, Shetty settled into a chair surrounded by his supporters, and started sipping tea while explaining the aim of the discussion and the idea behind the Chai pe Charcha campaign.
Shetty made his opening remarks on the theme of discussion, ‘social issues’ in the area and suggestions on how they can be dealt with, before the question-answer session began.
The residents who participated in the discussion started asking Shetty questions pertaining to the problems they were facing, a majority of which dealt with issues such as traffic snarls, parking problems, and lack of public hospitals in the area.
Anuben Mehta, a resident of Babubhai chawl at Shankar Lane in Malad (East), said the nullah adjacent to her chawl was rarely cleaned by the civic body and had become a major health hazard in the area. “We have come here to show our support, but in turn expect the politician’s support too. They must never forget that we elect them,” she said.
Another resident of the area, Sejal Desai, said, “It is a good idea to organise a chai pe charcha with the public. Interaction between the public and politicians is the need of the hour, but we wish this continues on a regular basis even after the elections, which rarely happens.”
Shetty said, “We will hold small chai pe charcha gatherings at residential societies, railway stations and other public places near tea stalls. The gatherings are meant for 100-200 people at a time and the purpose of the meeting is to discuss the voters’ options for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections and to discuss the major issues they have been facing there.
These meetings will continue further, but in the residences of local leaders or party workers, and will be open to 15-20 individuals representing the people of those particular areas”
Apart from the question-answer, session, which lasted for around half-an-hour, Shetty spoke on a range of issues such as good governance, tackling corruption and improving the education system in the country.
As soon as the charcha ended, Shetty greeted the residents and requested them to vote for him in large numbers and proceeded with his rally.