Cabinet minister for tribal development, forest and tourism, Ganpat Vasava at a gathering at Badripada village in Dangs district on Sunday appealed to the people from Christian community to vote for the BJP in the upcoming by-elections to eight Gujarat Assembly constituencies scheduled for next month.
The meeting where Vasava addressed pastors and Christians was held at the house warming ceremony of the farmhouse that belongs to BJP’s Subir taluka panchayat member Rajesh Gamit.
“As the elections are round the corner, I invited state cabinet minister Vasava, Ashok Dhoryajia (organisation secretary of BJP) and some of the people in the area like pastors and our community people to the inauguration of my farm house. Christians supported BJP candidate in the taluka panchayat and district panchayat elections and this is for the first time, we arranged a meeting ahead of the assembly bypolls. Over a hundred people attended the meeting and assured their support to the BJP candidate in upcoming elections,” Gamit, who is a Christian and former president of this panchayat, said.
When asked if Covid norms were followed, Gamit said, “We made sure that all norms were followed. All those who attended the meeting wore masks and used hand sanitizer.”
This is the first time that the BJP is openly wooing Christians after the district saw its worst anti-Christian riots in 1998. The constituency has nearly 35 per cent Christian population.
The BJP recently announced Vijay Patel as its candidate from Dangs for the upcoming bypolls.
A CNI priest in Dangs district on condition of anonymity said, “I have seen the riots that broke out in Dangs on December 25, 1998, wherein many churches were set on fire, priests were beaten up and even their houses were torched by mob belonging to ring wing. Two evangelists were murdered by rioters. Now BJP is trying to woo the Christians for upcoming bypolls. It was the right wing people who had carried out the mass attacks on Christians. We have seen the suffering.”
Vasava said, “The purpose of the meeting was to tell the members of the Christian community about our party, its plans and functioning. We urged them not to fall for false promises by the Congress. We got good response from those who attended the meeting and they assured us support.”
People from the community, including 15 pastors, attended the meeting. The BJP leaders assured them various developments in their areas.
BJP’s organisation secretary of Dangs, Ashok Dhorajiya, said, “Over 35 per cent of the total population of Dangs are Christians. People from the Christian community are with BJP. In coming days, we will carry out similar meetings in other talukas in Dangs.”
Congress leader and probable candidate from Dangs, Suryakant Gavit, said, “The Christians are with Congress. This is for the first time that such a meeting was held ahead of bypolls in Dangs. There were very few pastors and Christians who attended the meeting. Moreover, such meetings cannot determine the fact that they are with BJP.”