Cyclone Ockhi, which brought unseasonal thundershowers throughout the west coast of India this week, has thrown elections preparations of both the BJP and the Congress in poll-bound Gujarat for a toss. Both parties had scheduled a series of rallies and election meetings, but these now stand cancelled or postponed.
On Tuesday, BJP party president Amit Shah was scheduled to hold a rally in Surat, but he was forced to cancel this due to the weather conditions. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, too, was to hold a rally in the south Gujarat city on Wednesday, and this also stands cancelled.
BJP leader and Bhojpuri film star Manoj Tiwari was also expected to address a roadshow in Gujarat state capital Ahmedabad on Tuesday, but was forced to cancel this, local MLA Jagroopsinh Rajput said.
The BJP had also lined up chief ministers of the other states it rules — Vasundhara Raje of Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh's Yogi Adityanath — to address rallies and press conferences in Surat in the run-up to Assembly elections, but given the inclement weather conditions, these too were called off.
In the Congress camp, Rahul Gandhi had lined up a series of public meetings, and CNN-News18 said all of these stand cancelled. The party vice-president did hold a rally on Tuesday at Anjar, but cancelled three others — at Morbi, Dhrangadhra and Surendranagar.
A report on The Times of India said that Gandhi arrived in Bhuj on Tuesday and moved from there to Anjar, but with the weather worsening, he was forced to beat a hasty retreat and return to Delhi.
Shankersinh Vaghela, who quit the Congress earlier this year to float his own Jan Vikalp outfit, was scheduled to address roadshows and rallies in Junagadh, and Saurashtra's Mahuva and Palitana towns on Wednesday, a leader of his outfit said. The former Gujarat chief minister was to arrive in Surat late Tuesday night, but dropped his plan.
With Modi's Tuesday and Wednesday rallies being cancelled, the prime minister will now directly address rallies on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, The Times of India report added.
Modi later took to Twitter to exhort all party workers to focus on helping people. "Our Karyakartas (workers) should devote themselves to providing all possible assistance and stand shoulder to shoulder with fellow citizens," Modi said.
With #CycloneOckhi expected to make a landfall in Gujarat, I appeal to @BJP4Gujarat Karyakartas to focus on helping people across the state. Our Karyakartas should devote themselves to providing all possible assistance and stand shoulder to shoulder with fellow citizens.
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) December 5, 2017
Inspired by his tweet, BJP leaders in Surat suspended all campaign-related work and began shifting people to safer places, the MLA for Surat's Majura constituency, Harsh Sanghvi, said.
"We have decided not to do any kind of campaigning until the effect of cyclone remains. Since this morning, all our workers have spread across the city to help people. We are moving them to safer locations. During this work, we will not wear any scarves having BJP's election symbol," Sanghvi said.
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Updated Date: Dec 06, 2017 08:05:13 IST