It was Narendra Modi in charcha, largely solitary. A glass of tea in his hand and seated on the road outside Iskcon Ganthia in Ahmedabad Wednesday, Modi turned chai pe charcha into a mostly one-way event.
Volunteers of organisers Citizens for Accountable Governance were there in their blue kurtas. CAG’s partner Videocon provided the LCD screens. CAG even set up tea hangouts where there were none. In Vadodara’s Darbar Chowkdi, a decorated counter served tea from a party kettle. “The vendor works takes orders on phone and supplies tea all over the area,” said Narendra Patel, BJP ward executive.
Modi described the event as a “footpath parliament”. Modi spoke on education, clean energy, black money, safety, infrastructure. He answered questions asked from certain cities, but his home state was largely out of this.
No one in Ahmedabad asked questions, although many sat close to Modi. Technical snags prevented questions from being aired from some places. Vadodara was the only centre to get a question.
“Our focus is on West Bengal, Tamil Nadu and other states where Modi is not that popular. So, interactive systems were set up there,” said Binit Gandhi, CAG coordinator in Rajkot. “He is quite well known in Rajkot so we don’t plan interactive sessions here.”
Modi did answer questions from places such as Mysore and Patna.
Crowds at most Gujarat venues were mostly of local BJP leaders and workers. The party paid for the tea at all venues. “I made the tea. Modi had two full cups,” said Meghnathi Rajeshgiri, 20, in Ahmedabad. In Surat’s Pooja tea stall, owner Bharat Mali sold 700 cups, twice his usual.
Inputs from various centres