BJP national president Amit Shah, who began his political career as a booth in-charge in Gujarat’s Naranpura, relived the old days as he launched on Tuesday a six-day door-to-door campaign – Maha Sampark Abhiyaan – in his former assembly constituency.
Surrounded by a contingent of police and BSF jawans, Shah visited several housing societies of Parasnagar and spent around one-and-a-half hours interacting with locals. Hundreds of schoolchildren and BJP supporters greeted Shah with rose petals as he arrived at 10 am, and the BJP chief took blessings of Goddess Ambaji at a temple in Akashganga Apartment before commencing on his campaign.
Naranpura has been a predominantly BJP bastion where Shah also has a home. Before being elected to the Rajya Sabha last August, Shah used to represent Naranpura constituency in the Gujarat assembly.
Shah distributed pamphlets as people greeted him with bouquets, flowers and garlands. The youths were seen taking selfies with Shah, who was only happy to oblige. Shah struck a chord with the locals as he recalled his days when he began his political journey from the constituency.
The pamphlets contained a picture of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, asking the voters to vote for BJP by giving precedence to development over dynastic politics, communalism and casteism. Another pamphlet highlighted the safety and prosperity of Gujarat under BJP and compared various development parameters – like education, electricity, number of policemen, literacy, number of educational institutes, transport, medical seats, infant mortality rate, maternal mortality rate, agriculture production, bank deposits, per capita income etc – before 1995 (Congress rule) and after 1995 (BJP rule).
There were also some who took the opportunity to put forward their grievances to Shah, who was accompanied by Ahmedabad mayor Gautam Shah. “I have been finding it very difficult to get a ration card. The government officials are making me run from one office to another. So, I told Amitbhai that if they want our vote, such problems must be resolved. When he (Shah) has come to us, we must tell him what we want,” said Madhuben Patel, a resident of Karnavati II Society.
Ramesh Desai, a resident of Valinath Chowk, who belongs to the Maldhari community, sought land to build a hostel for Maldhari girls in Ahmedabad. Desai had come with a group of girls in traditional Maldhari attire to present his memorandum. “We are here with a clear mind. We will present our demand to him and if we get any concrete answer, we will vote for them (BJP) otherwise not,” he said.
Naranpura also has a sizable Patidar population, which is up in arms against the BJP over constitutional reservation under the leadership of Hardik Patel. Virbalaben Patel, a resident of Akashganga Society, when asked if they would vote for BJP, said, “Why? Can’t Patidars vote for BJP. We have been traditional supporters of BJP and this time also we will vote for the BJP. If Amitbhai is not there, someone else of his choice will come.”