MP Tribal leader Hiralal Alawa interview: ‘By calling us STs, Constitution undermined our identity. By saying Vanvasi, RSS wants to obliterate it’

The Indian Express | 3 days ago | 24-11-2022 | 05:45 pm

MP Tribal leader Hiralal Alawa interview: ‘By calling us STs, Constitution undermined our identity. By saying Vanvasi, RSS wants to obliterate it’

An Assistant Professor of Rheumatology at AIIMS Delhi, Dr. Hiralal Alawa (38) is also a young tribal leader and national conveyor of Jay Yuva Adivasi Shakti (JAYS), a social organisation of tribals in Madhya Pradesh. Alawa had started JAYS in 2011 to develop young tribal leadership in Madhya Pradesh. JAYS, which took off as a social media platform, now boasts of five lakh members across MP.Alawa, who is also a first-time Congress MLA, speaks on the debate over calling tribals Adivasi vs Vanvasi, claims of conversion of tribals, introduction of the PESA Act 1996 in MP, the need to develop tribal leadership and float a party ahead of the Assembly and Lok Sabha elections to fight for jal, jangal aur zameen. Excerpts:* Rahul Gandhi has questioned the BJP terming tribals as Vanvasi, saying they were actually Adivasi. How do you see it?Over the past decade, our organisation JAYS has been fighting for us to be identified as ‘Adivasi’. Our understanding is that ‘Adi’ in ‘Adivasi’ means ancient, while ‘Vasi’ mean the habitants of India. ‘Vanvasi’ is a word used by the RSS, which has always tried to hide the origin of Adivasis to suit their agenda. Vanvasi means those living in jungles, which include everything and anything from wild animals like tigers, bears to even goats. Jaipal Singh Munda, a tall leader of the Adivasi community, had back then argued before the Constituent Assembly that we should be referred to as ‘Adivasi’ in the Constitution, and that by calling us tribals, our basic identity had been endangered. And this is exactly what has happened. Because we were identified as ‘Scheduled Tribes’, we did not get a permanent identity. I have also opposed the use of the term ‘Vanvasi’ any time any leader in Madhya Pradesh has used it, including in the Assembly.* Rahul Gandhi has also mentioned laws like Panchayat (Extension to Scheduled Areas) (PESA) Act, 1996, as well as the UPA giving tribal communities forest rights and land rights. Do you feel these acts have been effective?ALAWA: As far as the Forest Rights Act or PESA are concerned, they have given Adivasis some rights, but a lot more needs to be done. Schedule 5 of the Constitution advocates for the rights of Adivasis. It is applicable in 10 states of the country, but these states have not formulated its rules and regulations, so it is not implemented on the ground. Whether it is the Congress or the BJP, neither of them have taken any serious efforts to implement Schedule 5 and Schedule 6.Also, when the PESA Act was passed in Parliament in 1996, it was envisioned that it should be implemented on the lines of provision of the Sixth Schedule. But none of the governments have made any effort to implement the PESA Act like the provision of the Sixth Schedule. (Fifth Schedule has provision for creating tribal advisory councils. Sixth Schedule talks of district and regional councils that have certain legislative and judicial powers that are more powerful than those under Fifth Schedule. The 10 states of Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha, Rajasthan and Telangana come under Fifth Schedule, while Sixth Schedule has Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura and Mizoram)The central idea of the PESA Act is to give villages rights, develop them and facilitate self-governance among Adivasis. But as PESA rules were not formulated on the lines of the provisions of Schedule 6, it is very weak and does not give the rights the Adivasis should enjoy.* The MP government has recently formulated rules under PESA that were announced in the presence of President Droupadi Murmu. How effective will these be in giving tribals their rights?ALAWA: The PESA Act was passed in Parliament in 1996. It took Madhya Pradesh 26 years to formulate the regulations. Even when implemented, the PESA Act has failed to give gram sabhas the control over resources coming under their boundaries. The PESA Act enforced in Odisha gave the gram panchayat the power to make the final decision, which is why the Vedanta project could not be implemented, as the tribal gram panchayat did not give the permission to dig Niyamgiri hills. But the PESA enforced in MP says if the gram panchayat is not able to reach a conclusion in 2-3 meetings, it will be the chairperson who will single-handedly take the final decision. How can power be vested in a single person?Also, the MP government mentioned giving financial powers to these gram sabhas on the lines of Schedule 6, but it was not executed. Neither was the financial structure for the gram sabhas defined, specifying salaries of the chairman, secretary and other members of the gram sabha. We have asked the MP government to explain, how these gram sabhas can function without their finances being defined? There are several scheduled areas in which there is a sizable population of non-Adivasis. How much will their role be, in these gram sabha? There are various tribal villages that already have gram panchayats. What will the role of gram sabhas be in such villages? We have made a presentation before the government, saying neither will this PESA be able to develop villages by giving them self-governance, nor will they stop migration. Looking at the forthcoming Assembly elections, and the Lok Sabha elections the year after, the state government, in a rush, has enforced these rules, but these need to be withdrawn and reformulated to truly empower and develop the Adivasi communities. Adivasis have been fighting for these rights not only since Independence, but even with the Britishers before Independence.Another important element is that governments have formulated several acts like the Land Acquisition Act that go against the basics of PESA, but the PESA rules in MP do not specify how these acts will work in scheduled areas with PESA being enforced.* The Supreme Court has said forced conversions can affect national security, while CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan has also expressed concerns over conversion and the urgent need to stop them. Religious conversion of tribals, especially in tribal-dominated districts of Alirajpur and Jhabua, has always been a fraught topic.ALAWA: Religious conversion is a concern for Adivasis across the country. The Constitution, while defining the Adivasis as Scheduled Tribes, gave them an identity originating from their customs, beliefs, culture and the fact that they were nature worshippers, not tied to any religion. Tribal in different states have followed their own customs to worship their own gods. Now they are talking about conversions. Even we want the Adivasis to be able to preserve their identity. But in the past 70 years, what have the governments, of Gujarat or Maharashtra done to help Adivasis preserve their culture? When you talk about distorting Adivasi roots or foundations, it is the government whose role comes under the spotlight. It is political leaders who attribute Adivasis to one religion or another, but has the Constitution defined the religion of Adivasis? The issue of religion is only a political issue. In MP, it is the BJP itself which is interfering with the customs and beliefs of the Adivasis. In fact, the government has played a major role in pushing the Adivasis away from their own customs. They have never made any efforts to preserve Adivasi culture.* You have also spoken about floating a political party to increase Adivasi presence in the state Assembly…ALAWA: It is the need of the hour. Adivasis have their own demands and issues. In the past 70 years, neither the BJP nor the Congress have been serious about them. In such a situation, we need Adivasi leaders. We have said, “We want leaders.” Now, whether these leaders go on to form a party, get elected to become MLAs or MPs, is a different issue. But we need leaders who will fight for Adivasi demands of jal, jangal aur zameen, the for core issues of Adivasis. Leaders like Birsa Munda, Tantya Bhil who can fight. Whether they fight through means of a political party or independently, is not an issue.* You are a sitting Congress MLA, but when you talk of developing Adivasi leadership, does it also mean that in future you would break away from the Congress?ALAWA: Whether I fight another election or not is a decision that our organisation will take. The organisation is not just Hiralal Alawa alone. We have 15-20 lakh members across India and nearly five lakh in Madhya Pradesh. The entire body will take a decision on whether we will fight the election with our own political party or with any political party. As of now, we are preparing to raise our own leadership.

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Royals livid over Koshyari, Trivedi remarks: Sambhajiraje warns of ‘uprising’, Udayanraje to announce ‘important decision’ today
The Indian Express | 9 hours ago | 28-11-2022 | 12:45 am
The Indian Express
9 hours ago | 28-11-2022 | 12:45 am

UPSET with “inaction” against Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari despite their repeated demands, Chattrapati Udayanraje Bhosale and Sambhajiraje Chhatrapati, descendants of Chhatrapati Shivaji, have upped the ante, seeking decisive action in the matter.While Sambhajiraje expressed the possibility of an “uprising”, Udayanraje will hold a press conference in Pune on Monday in which he will announce an “important decision”, said his aides.Last week, Udayanraje held a press conference in Pune and demanded the immediate ouster of the Governor as well as Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) spokesperson Sudhanshu Trivedi for “insulting” the Maratha warrior king. While the Governor had reportedly called Shivaji a hero of the past era during a function, Trivedi, during a TV debate on V D Savarkar’s apology, had said that the 17th-century king had also “apologised” during his regime.In a tweet on Sunday, Sambhajiraje warned of an “uprising” if no action is taken against the Governor. “Does it mean the government agrees with the remarks? No one should take the people of Maharashtra for granted. If the government does not understand the sentiments of Shiv Bhakats, an uprising will take place,” he said.Last week, Sambhajiraje had asked as to what was preventing the government from taking action against the Governor. “The Governor has tried to belittle Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, who is worshipped by millions, at least twice. It is unbelievable that…the government remained a mere spectator…now even BJP spokesperson Sudhanshu Trivedi has made insulting remarks. If such things are allowed to continue, it will lead to a revolt from the people of Maharashtra,” he had said.While Udayanraje is Rajya Sabha MP from the BJP, Sambhajiraje is a former RS Parliamentarian who was also a presidential nominee. Both the royals are known for their proximity to Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis.Udayanraje’s close associates said he will make an important announcement on Monday. “We don’t know whether it relates to his resignation or not. It may be about resignation or it may not be so… We have no clue but we know for sure that he will announce an important decision,” said an aide on Sunday.Both Udayanraje and Sambhajiraje are firm that the Governor should be sent packing from Maharashtra. “He should not serve as Governor anywhere,” Sambhajiraje told TV channels in Kolhapur on Saturday.Udayanraje said, “The Maharashtra Governor deserved to be sent to an old age home.”

Royals livid over Koshyari, Trivedi remarks: Sambhajiraje warns of ‘uprising’, Udayanraje to announce ‘important decision’ today
Baba Ramdev’s comment on women ‘indecent and condemnable’: DCW chairperson Maliwal
The Indian Express | 14 hours ago | 27-11-2022 | 07:45 pm
The Indian Express
14 hours ago | 27-11-2022 | 07:45 pm

Delhi Commission for Women (DCW) chairperson, Swati Maliwal on Sunday condemned the objectionable statement by yoga guru and businessman, Baba Ramdev on women, calling his remarks “indecent.”Maliwal in a tweet said, “The remarks made by Swami Ramdev on women in front of the wife of the Deputy Chief Minister of Maharashtra are indecent and condemnable. All women have been hurt by this statement, Baba Ramdev ji should apologize to the country for this statement!”महाराष्ट्र के उपमुख्यमंत्री जी की पत्नी के सामने स्वामी रामदेव द्वारा महिलाओं पर की गई टिप्पणी अमर्यादित और निंदनीय है। इस बयान से सभी महिलाएँ आहत हुई हैं, बाबा रामदेव जी को इस बयान पर देश से माफ़ी माँगनी चाहिए! pic.twitter.com/1jTvN1SnR7— Swati Maliwal (@SwatiJaiHind) November 26, 2022DCW Chair’s statement comes after Maharashtra State Women Commission on Saturday served a notice to Ramdev asking him to clarify his stand in three days.At a function in Thane on Friday, Ramdev said, “Women look good in sarees, women look good in salwar suits too, and in my eyes, they look good even if they wear nothing.”Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis’s wife Amruta and Chief Minister Eknath Shinde’s son and Lok Sabha MP Shrikant Shinde were present at the function.Opposition Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) on Saturday protested against the objectionable statement made against women by Ramdev. NCP’s women workers garlanded Ramdev’s photo with chappals.Slamming Baba Ramdev, Trinamool Congress (TMC) MP, Mahua Moitra reacted sharply over his comments calling his “views lop-sided.”“Now I know why Patanjali baba ran away from Ramlila Maidan in women’s clothes. He says he likes sarees, salwars and …… Clearly got a strabismus in his brain that makes his views so lop-sided,” she said in a tweet.Now I know why Patanjali baba ran away from Ramlila Maidan in women’s clothes. He says he likes sarees, salwars and ……Clearly got a strabismus in his brain that makes his views so lop-sided.— Mahua Moitra (@MahuaMoitra) November 26, 2022Ramdev hasn’t issued a statement yet, even after the comments have drawn flak from groups and individuals.

Baba Ramdev’s comment on women ‘indecent and condemnable’: DCW chairperson Maliwal
Medha Patkar saga: From Narmada anti-dam movement face to fighter for many causes
The Indian Express | 16 hours ago | 27-11-2022 | 05:45 pm
The Indian Express
16 hours ago | 27-11-2022 | 05:45 pm

It was in 1985 that Medha Patkar, then just 31, left her PhD midway to jump headlong into the Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA). Mumbai-born Patkar, the daughter of freedom fighter and labour union leader Vasant Khanolkar, had done her Masters in Social Work from the Tata Institute of Social Sciences and from her early years got involved in several causes involving generally the “oppressed” and poor.However, it was the Narmada agitation, which grew into a protest against big dams and the right of the displaced to rehabilitation, later spreading to other similar projects, that came to define the activist.It also brought her into direct conflict with the Gujarat government, particularly when it was led by Narendra Modi between 2001-14, with Modi staking the development image of his government on the ambitious Sardar Sarovar dam project.Patkar’s appearance at Rahul Gandhi’s Bharat Jodo Yatra recently, walking shoulder to shoulder with him, was enough for the BJP to drag the activist into the election slugfest.Modi, who remains the face of the BJP campaign, Union Home Minister Amit Shah, Chief Minister Bhupendra Patel, have all attacked Patkar during this election, as “anti-Gujarat”, a prime hurdle in the state’s development, and as “urban Naxal”.The Sardar Sarovar dam project on Narmada river for which Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru laid the foundation stone on April 5, 1961, had a full reservoir level (FRL) height of 49.08 metres for harnessing the river for irrigation and power generation in the Narmada basin. In 1965, a higher dam with an FRL of 152.45 metres was recommended by a committee. Madhya Pradesh did not agree to its recommendations, leading to the setting up of the Narmada Water Dispute Tribunal in October 1969.This tribunal gave its final award in 1979, fixing the FRL at 138.68 metres, as well as the share of the water and hyrdo power between the riparian states — Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Maharashtra. This award was to neither be changed nor reviewed till 2025. The aim of this dam was to provide water for irrigation in at least 15 districts of Gujarat and some parts of Rajasthan and Maharashtra and to share the hydroelectric generated between Gujarat, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh.The construction of the dam began in 1987, backed by funds from the World Bank. By then, the NBA was already spearheading protests against it. Finally, under immense pressure from anti-dam activists, the World Bank withdrew from the project in 1993. The construction was later halted by the Supreme Court in May 1995.In February 1998, the work on the dam resumed, with its height then at 88 metres. In 2000, the apex court set a condition of supervised relief and rehabilitation for the dam oustees. By 2004, the FRL had reached 110.64 metres. In March 2006, when Modi was about to complete his first term as CM, clearance was given for raising the dam’s height to 121.92 metres. When the Centre sought a review, Modi sat on a hunger strike for 51 hours.In 2014, just 17 days after it took over at the Centre, the Modi government gave permission to raise the dam’s height to its maximum and install sluice gates. In July this year, its waters reached its final Kutch end.While the BJP has always blamed the Congress governments over the years for not releasing funds and hence delaying the Sardar Sarovar Project, under the Modi government, as per figures tabled in the Gujarat Assembly in March 2021, only 64% of the Rs 9,605 crore sought by the state has been released between 2015-16 and 2019-20 for it.Along with other activists, prominent leaders and academicians, the NBA relentlessly fought against the Gujarat government, starting with Congress CM Chimanbhai Patel, over the Sardar Sarovar Project. Its contention was that the tribals’ displacement from their native habitats caused by big dams and their resettlement elsewhere would leave them devastated.At its maximum FRL of 138.68 metres, the Sardar Sarovar dam submerged 37,690 hectares — 11,279 hectares of agricultural land, 13,542 hectares of forests and 12,869 hectares of river basin and wasteland. In all, 193 villages of Madhya Pradesh, 33 of Maharashtra and 19 of Gujarat were affected, with additionally 243 villages partly affected in Gujarat.The NBA demanded proper rehabilitation of 40,000 people who, it said, were displaced by the dam project, particularly tribals across Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra.The Patkar-led movement held indefinite fasts, demonstrations and rallies, drawing hundreds of supporters to protests against the Sardar Sarovar dam and other big dams in the Narmada Valley. In the 1980s and 1990s, she also ran foul of the Congress governments in the affected states, with governments accusing her of hampering development.In the 1980s, as part of the movement, Patkar organised a 36-day solidarity march from Madhya Pradesh to the Sardar Sarovar Project site. Patkar’s agitation, along with protests by locals, forced the World Bank to set up Morse Commission, an independent review of the project, which is said to have concluded that it violated environmental and resettlement policies. The World Bank withdrew funding in 1993.Her agitation also saw clashes between the NBA members and the authorities, while drawing support from the late Baba Amte, Booker Prize winner Arundhati Roy, film star Aamir Khan, and filmmaker Anand Patwardhan, among others. Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, too, participated in a protest rally organised by the NBA in 2016.Patkar undertook many fasts to protest against major dams over the years and also periodically sat on Jal Satyagrahas in the villages that now stand submerged in the Narmada Basin, to oppose oustees’ evacuations.Noted Dalit writer of Maharashtra Arjun Dangle, who closely watched the NBA agitation, said: “Medhatai’s integrity and commitment to the cause of the tribals, oppressed and downtrodden cannot be doubted. She single-mindedly pursued a cause to get justice for the tribals and poor displaced by the dam projects.”Patkar has always maintained that it is wrong to call her or her organisation “anti-development”, asserting that she only fights for the rights of the tribals and people displaced by various projects and never properly rehabilitated.Political parties across divides have also often questioned the source of funds to her organisation. Patkar and 11 others were booked in a case of alleged misuse of funds in Barwani district of Madhya Pradesh, which was filed in July this year. They were accused of allegedly misusing around ₹ 13 crore collected in the name of education of tribal children. Patkar rejected the charges as baseless and “politically-motivated”.Apart from the dam-affected people, Patkar has taken up the cause of slum dwellers in Mumbai under the aegis of Ghar Bachao, Ghar Banao, accusing land sharks and big developers of forcibly evicting them. She has also sued contractors by filing PILs against them.It was largely due to her protests that in 2006, the then Congress-NCP government in Maharashtra brought a new housing policy promising affordable houses and slum redevelopment.She was also one of the opponents to the hill station project Lavasa City near Pune for allegedly violating environment laws and taking away land of tribals.In 2007, Patkar for the first time ventured beyond Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat, and joined the Nandigram agitation in Kolkata. With the Trinamool Congress led by Mamata Banerjee leading the stir, the Tatas eventually relocated the Nano plant for which land had been taken in Nandigram to Gujarat.Patkar was part of the agitation against land acquisition for the nuclear plant at Srikakulam district in Andhra Pradesh as well.In March 2022, she questioned the Silverline semi-high speed railway corridor project being built in Kerala by the Pinarayi Vijayan government-led LDF government.In her late 60s, Patkar is still fighting, raising her voice against the JSW Steel Project in Odisha as recently as June. However, this time, she did not get any support, with villagers driving her away. In July, an FIR was filed against her by one villager in Odisha alleging that the NBA trust had misused funds meant for education of tribals.Senior CPI leader Prakash Reddy said it was natural for the BJP to attack her. “The party has always sided with the capitalists. Anybody who fights for the poor gets treated badly.”Patkar has been at the centre of the BJP’s attack in its campaign for the upcoming Gujarat Assembly polls, first to target the Arvind Kejriwal-led Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) for having fielded Patkar in a Lok Sabha election(in 2014 from Mumbai North East seat, which she lost) and recently, to attack the Congress after she joined Rahul Gandhi’s Yatra during its Maharashtra leg. In his Gujarat poll rallies, PM Modi slammed the Congress over Patkar marching with Rahul, asking voters to punish “Narmada protesters”.

Medha Patkar saga: From Narmada anti-dam movement face to fighter for many causes
In BJP push to sweep Gujarat, UP lends a hand
The Indian Express | 16 hours ago | 27-11-2022 | 05:45 pm
The Indian Express
16 hours ago | 27-11-2022 | 05:45 pm

In December 2002, the Congress, which had governments in several states, had at least six state chief ministers and several national leaders flown into Gujarat to campaign for the Assembly polls.The elections were being held in the backdrop of the Godhra train burning and the riots, followed by the Akshardham terror attack which investigators had said was “revenge” for the riots. Narendra Modi, then the chief minister, had earned the sobriquet of “Hindu Hriday Samrat (ruler of Hindu hearts)”. He led a Gaurav Yatra across the length and breadth of the state, his speech largely targeting the minorities and the Congress’s president of “Italian origin”.The events of that election added up to a “Hindutva wave” leading the BJP to win 127 of 182 seats, its best performance so far. The Congress’s “carpet bombing” of netas — Rajasthan’s Ashok Gehlot, Maharashtra’s Vilasrao Deshmukh, Karnataka’s SM Krishna, Chhattisgarh’s Ajit Jogi, Madhya Pradesh’s Digvijaya Singh and Delhi’s Sheila Dikshit — created an atmosphere in the party’s favour, but did not help the party return to power. In the two-way contest, the Congress won 51 seats, two going to Independents, and two to the Janata Dal (United).While the BJP’s “carpet bombing” in Gujarat in the past two weeks may resemble the Congress’s 20 years ago, the former has many strategic layers. The new feature in 2022 being the huge number of campaigners brought in from Uttar Pradesh, a state that has had a deep link with Gujarat since the Ram Janmabhoomi movement, and where the BJP won the Assembly election in March riding on the slogan of “double-engine sarkar”.For the first time, an army of at least 160 BJP leaders and workers have landed from Uttar Pradesh to campaign in Gujarat, right from MPs to district-level leaders that UP leaders say is the biggest deployment so far. Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath launched his campaign from Wankaner near Morbi on a stage flanked by JCB backhoes, banners describing him as “Hindu Hriday Samrat” and crowds hailing him as “bulldozer baba”. He has now conducted several rallies. While Adityanath aggressively argues in favour of the “Gujarat model” for the country in his speeches, on the ground in Gujarat, it is the UP model playing out. Apart from flower-bedecked backhoes being placed at Adityanath’s rally venues, and the campaign riding on the double-engine Sarkar slogan, the BJP manifesto now has also promised to enact the UP-like Recovery of Damages to Public and Private Properties Act that the state ratified last year.All-star campaigns have been carefully planned out. For instance, Adityanath has addressed rallies in constituencies that the BJP won or lost by narrow margins or seats with a sizable number of Muslim votes. He also did roadshows on seats such as the Patidar-dominated Varachha in Surat and Viramgam in support of candidate Hardik Patel. In Dwarka, where CM Bhupendra Patel and Minister of State for Home Harsh Sanghavi have earned adulations from Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah for the demolition of properties last month on Bet Dwarka island — mostly belonging to minorities and seen as a copy-paste of the UP model — Adityanath was almost deified by the BJP candidate Pabubha Manek during the rally. UP Deputy CM Keshav Prasad Maurya has also been holding meetings in areas of Gujarat where migrants from the Hindi heartland have been residing.An MP from Sitapur district who was part of the campaign pointed out how the campaign also covered communities such as house painters. “There are at least 500 families doing colour kaam in Ahmedabad who are from Sitapur,” said the leader. “We don’t want a new front to rise,” said a BJP leader from UP, referring to the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP).According to Sitapur district president of the Bhajpa Pichhda Varg Morcha (BJP OBC cell), Ramjivan Jaiswal, “From UP, 162 BJP workers have been camping here since September and will be here till the election process concludes.”In 2014, the BJP sent a huge group from Gujarat to Varanasi, mostly Brahmin and Patidar leaders, to reach out to their respective communities and campaign for Modi who was the prime ministerial candidate at the time. Arvind Kejriwal, then having quit as Delhi chief minister after 49 days, contested from the seat but lost to Modi. Former Gujarat MoS (Home) Gordhan Zadaphia was made the party’s UP in-charge in 2018 for the Lok Sabha elections the following year.The MP from Uttar Pradesh recalled how the Gujaratis influenced the UP campaign. “It would be very difficult to cover women in door-to-door campaigns as the women would be in purdah and run indoors when our people came to their homes. But when Gujarati women came, they not only covered them in the campaign, but they also conducted a successful rally of women- which is unprecedented for UP.”Before the blitzkrieg of netas, Zadaphia, who is now the number two in the Gujarat BJP after its president CR Paatil, planned a Gujarat Gaurav Yatra across 144 constituencies across five routes. The one passing the tribal belt, which was also the longest, was called the “Adivasi Gaurav Yatra”. “This yatra was different from the others as it kept the city areas out and unlike the earlier yatra that was led by one leader, this had several national and state leaders,” said Zadaphia.Add to all this Modi’s back-to-back rallies, averaging three a day, with a roadshow weaved in. Modi’s rally on Sunday in Surat’s Patidar area of Varachha, where the AAP is giving a tough fight, will be preceded by a 15-km plus roadshow. Kejriwal is also pumping iron and will hold a townhall meeting in the diamond city the same day. The new fighter has also deployed every weapon in its armoury in Gujarat, as has the BJP its “Brahmastra” — a description Paatil used for Modi over a month ago in a media interaction.As a BJP minister said, “This election is a semi-final of 2024 even for the saamnewala (Opposition).”

In BJP push to sweep Gujarat, UP lends a hand