The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Modi yatra peters out

Mangrol (South Gujarat), Sept. 23: No proud salute greeted Narendra Modi’s Gaurav Yatra today.

As his rath rolled through this tribal belt on the last leg of the yatra’s third phase, the lukewarm response must have been a jolt — a reminder that the Hindutva wave has not eroded the Congress’ base.

But there was one saving grace. The weavers of Surat did not stage a protest at any of the places where Modi addressed meetings. The BJP had made sure that the show was not spoiled.

After several rounds of talks between the leaders of the weavers’ association and the Surat district collector, the weavers agreed to postpone their agitation. They have been invited to meet the chief minister in Gandhinagar tomorrow.

Modi tried his best to appease the tribals. He highlighted the government’s welfare schemes and promised many more if they taught the Congress a lesson in the coming polls.

Modi said the Congress had only treated the tribals as a vote bank. “But it seems the Congress does not need you any more. Otherwise, they would not have duped your leader (Amarsinh Chaudhary),” he told them. Chaudhary was recently removed from the post of state Congress chief.

The chief minister also blasted the media. “I want to tell the media that 70 per cent ad revenue they get is from Gujarati entrepreneurs. They should see to it that they do not unnecessarily malign Gujarat and project a negative picture of peace-loving Gujaratis,” he said.

But it was mainly promises all the way. This morning, in Bardoli, Modi announced the setting up of an export zone for agriculture-based products.

He kept up the tempo in Vyara, Songadh, Ukai, Zhankhav, Vankal, Mangrol and Tadkeshwar. He stressed on the need for educating girls and announced monetary incentives. But even that did not evoke a positive response.

At Ukai, while he was addressing a small roadside gathering, a group of youths did not bother to listen what the chief minister was saying.

The area has been a Congress bastion. In fact, while he boasted that the Congress has been decimated, some of those who had come to see the chief minister out of curiosity did not know he was from the BJP. They thought he was a Congress leader.

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