PM Modi’s Magic Fails in Saurashtra: Jasdan Rally Sees Empty Seats

Modi fails to work his magic in Jasdan, a Congress bastion. Will this be too difficult a bridge for BJP to cross?

3 min read
PM Narendra Modi addresses a rally in Dwarka, Gujarat

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is a renowned crowd-puller who has worked wonders with his charisma and oratory skill. Yet his first rally in Jasdan constituency of Saurashtra on Monday failed to pull a crowd.

According to the IB report, 12,000 chairs were readied for the rally, of which 800 remained empty. In fact, this reporter noticed massive blocks of sitting areas empty just before the PM’s speech started – albeit candidates from five constituencies were present at the Sabha including those from Junagadh, Jasdan, Gadhada, Chotila and Rajkot rural.

No show at Modi’s Jasdan Rally on Monday.
No show at Modi’s Jasdan Rally on Monday.
(Photo Courtesy: Masuma Bharmal Jariwala)

Jasdan constituency comprises of 2,28,223 voters. But the BJP has not been able to weave its magic in this seat. Taking a jibe at the people of Jasdan, Modi could not resist saying, “We have missed the train every time. In the last 60 years, you have given us a chance only three times, yet we have left no stone unturned to serve you.”

Who’s Contesting from Jasdan?

Veteran Congress leader Kuvarjibhai Bavaliya, a Kohli leader who has been an MLA thrice and a MP between 2009-14 from Jasdan, has been issued the ticket from here yet again. Of the total voters, around 1,00,000 are Kohlis. Meanwhile the BJP has fielded Dr Bharat Boghara, a Patidar and a former MLA between 2007-2012. Formerly a supporter of Bavaliya, Boghra joined BJP when he was offered a ticket in 2009 for the by-election, after Kuvarjibhai won the Lok Sabha polls and stepped down as the sitting MLA.

As Jasdan is one of the main battlegrounds for the BJP in Saurashtra, Modi decided to kick-start his campaign from here. Dr Boghra, an ayurvedic doctor and an industrialist, told The Quint:

Jasdan is a Congress bastion. The Congress leader who is also a working president has a strong hold in this area. He [Modi] was called here to bring a change in the mood of the people.
Dr Bharat Boghra, BJP Candidate from Jasdan

BJP’s Candidate Explanations

When asked about empty chairs at PM's rally, Dr Boghra said, “Yes, a few seats were empty because the SPG did not allow people to bring tamaku (tobacco), bidis, cigarettes and machis (matchboxes) inside. Hence, many were standing outside.”

For the first time, empty chairs were the highlight of Modi’s rally. In addition to empty chairs, there was no overhead cover (mandap) and people had to sit under the scorching sun – something atypical of BJP’s arrangements when it comes to massive rallies. “Due to limitation in election expense, we did not erect mandaps,” Boghra clarified.

Despite the poor attendance at Modi's rally, Boghra was confident of winning the seat and claimed that around 50 percent of Kohlis were with him.

Congress Ploy to Drain Modi’s Crowd

According to Bavaliya, Boghra was once his ‘Election agent’. “Boghra was with Congress, but joined the BJP after he was given a ticket in a 2009 by-election. On Monday, we had intentionally kept the opening of our Vichiya Karyalay at the same time when Modi was to address the Sabha. Over 3,500 people attended our opening function, despite the fact that the BJP had their candidates from five constituencies on the stage. It was easy to bring in crowd for the party. Yet their chairs were empty. What does it show?” questioned Bavaliya.

Popular Gujarati Singer Arvind Vegada performs for the crowd before Modi’s rally starts in Jasdan, on Monday.
Popular Gujarati Singer Arvind Vegada performs for the crowd before Modi’s rally starts in Jasdan, on Monday.
(Photo Courtesy: Masuma Bharmal Jariwala)

Interestingly, singer and musician Arvind Vegda was roped in by the BJP for a live performance before PM's arrival to entertain the masses. “I was allotted a 45-minute slot. I have written around 10-12 songs which I will be performing live at different rallies.” Vegda told The Quint.

(The Quint is available on Telegram. For handpicked stories every day, subscribe to us on Telegram)

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