PM Modi will address eight rallies in Saurashtra and south Gujarat on November 27 and 29.
Ahmedabad: After a derogatory "chai-wala" meme tweeted by Congress' youth wing mocking Prime Minister Narendra Modi was heavily criticised by the BJP, the ruling party's leaders, including chief Amit Shah, today tuned in to the PM's monthly radio programme "Mann ki Baat" over cups of tea in poll-bound Gujarat. A dozen-odd union ministers, BJP functionaries and state leaders got together for the special "Mann ki Baat - Chai Ke Saath", that was organised at polling booths across the state.
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"On the morning of November 26 (Sunday), we have organised "Mann ki Baat, Chai ke Saath", wherein our workers would listen to PM Modi's radio programme at all the 50,000 (polling) booths while having tea with people. This exercise is aimed at establishing a direct dialogue with the people," Bhupinder Yadav, state unit in-charge of the BJP, had told NDTV.
While BJP National President Amit Shah attended the programme in Dariyapur, which is considered a "sensitive area", Finance Minister Arun Jaitley was in Sabarmati. Railways Minister Piyush Goyal was present in Gandhiji's Porbandar while Information and Broadcasting Minister Smriti Irani was present in Junagarh. Paresh Rawal, who put out a "bar-wala" tweet in response to the "chai-wala" meme, listened to the programme in Rajkot.
The event was organised ahead of PM Modi's tour of Gujarat on November 27 and 29 when he addresses eight rallies in Saurashtra and south Gujarat which go to polls on December 9.
Other party leaders who will ensure their participation include Dharmendra Pradhan, Uma Bharti, Jual Oram, Parshottam Rupala, state BJP president Jitu Vaghani, Chief Minister Vijay Rupani and several Gujarat ministers and lawmakers.
On Tuesday, the Congress youth wing posted a meme referencing PM Modi's past as a tea-seller. The controversial meme also featured US President Donald Trump and UK leader Theresa May. The blurbs showed the PM mispronouncing "meme", being corrected by Trump, and Ms May suggesting the PM that he should "stick to selling tea".
The ruling party had said that the offensive post exemplifies the Congress' elitist mindset and after the BJP sweeps next month's election in Gujarat, it will be the party's best comeback.
BJP national spokesperson GVL Narasimha Rao had said it was wrong on the part of the Congress to "insult" the country's prime minister in public although healthy criticism was acceptable in democracy.
"I have seen every person in Gujarat has a phone and uses Facebook and Whatsapp. However, all of them do not use English language. The Congress has thus not only insulted our prime minister, but also the people of our country who do not use English," Mr Rao alleged. He added that nobody insulted the Russian president for not speaking English.
Following condemnation, the Youth Congress tendered an apology and removed the tweet. Senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad also admitted it was a mistake. "We are very humble people. If we make a mistake, we say sorry. But when BJP abuses or their ministers abuse, they never say sorry," he said.
PM Modi has often referred to his tea-selling years in his speeches. In his campaign ahead of the 2014 general elections, Mr Modi, stressed the fact that he sold tea as a child on trains to help support his family, and that he is a self-made leader.