AS Union Textiles Minister Smriti Irani campaigned for the BJP in Vejalpur constituency in Ahmedabad going from one house to another, clicking selfies, she came across many people who complained of bad roads, problem of waterlogging, drinking water supply and several other civic issues.
Not interested in getting pictures clicked with the actor-turned politician, 61-year-old Ashutosh Bhatt said, “I told her that we are not interested in selfies and would like to share our problems with her, the purpose for which she was here. Obliging to my request, the minister came and asked about our issues during her brief halt of 20-25 minutes. She listened to us and asked the local corporator to take down my number and that I will receive a call within an hour to share details of the issue,” he said as his phone rang.
In between, halting to receive a phone call, Ashutosh answered, “Bhagyeshbhai I am with BJP since decades and will continue to be but even you know what the real problem is. I have not complained to Smritiji as an opposition but as a resident affected by the negligence and inability of corporators to solve these issues.”
Bhatt received a call, as assured by the minister, barely within an hour. It was Bhagyesh Patel, Jodhpur corporator who was also accompanying the minister, on the other side of the phone. “This is the reason I am optimistic that the issue will be resolved. The corporator is also aware that he will be asked for the feedback, and that is why he asked me to communicate. More so, going by my past experiences where the problems I had raised were heard and resolved, I believe the issue of bad roads due to which residents are so harassed will be taken care of,” he added.
In another adjoining society, an elite row houses of Shrushti Bungalows, Irani during her second and the last very brief halt faced another similar incident. “A resident complained about waterlogging issue. Though he was not invited, he approached her and said the area remains waterlogged in the entire monsoon season,” said Jigar Shah, Rotary Club’s assistant governor of zone IV.
Meenaxiben Patel, former mayor of Ahmedabad who represents the ward, tried to intervene and stop the complainant from speaking. “We do not deny that there are no such issues, but such little problems will remain. There was no big issue to complain about it. Since the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation is launching its pilot project of 24×7 water with meters in this ward, the waterlogging problem and little irregularity will be witnessed by the residents. But soon this will be taken care of,” Meenaxiben Patel told The Indian Express. “But the minister took it very sportingly and said that this is nothing new to her. Being a Rotarian herself she also asked about the ongoing projects and said she would talk about these in detail later,” said Bhanu Gupta, a local resident.
With over 3.2 lakh total voters in Vejalpur Assembly constituency, the seat also has the highest Muslim population in Ahmedabad. Though the presence of Jain, Patel OBC and Brahmin communities is indisputable in Jodhpur and Vastrapur wards, but Vejalpur, Makhtampur and Sarkhej wards have Muslim pockets.