Cyclone Ockhi Pours Cold Water On Poll Campaign In Gujarat

Cyclone Ockhi, which has already cost 25 lives in Kerala, had moved northwards over the last two days. It is currently lying 390 km from Surat. Its intensity has decreased and parts of coastal Maharashtra and Gujarat have been receiving heavy rains since yesterday. Met office said it will weaken to a deep depression by midnight and come to rest over the Gulf of Kambhat.

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Cyclone Ockhi Pours Cold Water On Poll Campaign In Gujarat

The road has been cut off due to floods following cyclone Ockhi in Kanyakumari (PTI)

Ahmedabad:  The Cyclone Ochki, which is expected to settle near Surat by midnight, has come as a dampener amid the election heat in Gujarat. Nearly half-a-dozen rallies by star campaigners from both sides, scheduled for today and tomorrow, had to be cancelled. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, whose rally at Surat tomorrow has been postponed by a day, asked senior party leaders of the state to focus on extending all help to people likely to be hit by the cyclone.

The cyclone, which has already cost 25 lives in Kerala, had moved northwards over the last two days. It is currently lying 390 km from Surat. Its intensity has decreased and parts of coastal Maharashtra and Gujarat have been receiving heavy rains since yesterday. Met office said it will weaken to a deep depression by midnight and come to rest over the Gulf of Kambhat.

The rains, or the prospect of it, have pushed the BJP and the Congress to push back a number of rallies. Three of the cancelled rallies were to be addressed by BJP chief Amit Shah in Amreli's Rajula town and Mahuva and Shihor in Bhavnagar district. But the venue of his rally in Rajula was found to be waterlogged in the morning.

The Congress campaign was equally affected, with three rallies of Rahul Gandhi being put off. Mr Gandhi, who is set to be his party's president, had addressed a rally in Anjar, but his meetings at Morbi, Dhrangadhra and Surendranagar could not be held. It was reported that his helicopter could not land in Morbi due to rough weather and the two subsequent rallies had to be postponed.

The BJP has also called off rallies and press conferences of two of its stalwart state leaders -- Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath  -- which were to be held today in the politically crucial Surat city. Its Delhi unit chief Manoj Tiwari's roadshow in Bapunagar area of Ahmedabad was also put off.

But the BJP leaders have been set a more crucial task. PM Modi, in a series of tweets this morning, assured Gujarat of all help and asked his partymen to focus on providing assistance to people.

A tweet from him read, "With CycloneOckhi expected to make a landfall in Gujarat, I appeal to BJP Gujarat Karyakartas (workers) 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."

In Surat, the BJP leaders have already started shifting people to safer places. "We have decided not to do any kind of campaigning until the effect of cyclone remains," Harsh Sanghvi, the  legislator from Surat's Majura seat, was quoted as saying by news agency Press Trust of India.

"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," he said.

Shankersinh Vaghela, who quit Congress to float his 'Jan Vikalp' front earlier this year, has also been forced to cancel his roadshows and rallies in Junagadh, and Mahuva and Palitana towns of Saurashtra, reported news agency Press Trust of India.

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