Amit Shah and several union ministers are in Gujarat to campaign for state polls.
Ahmedabad: Prime Minister Narendra Modi's monthly radio programme, Mann ki Baat, set the tone for the BJP's massive election blitzkrieg in Gujarat today. Top leaders and union ministers, led by BJP chief Amit Shah, were seen sitting with cups of tea to hear PM Modi's address. The special Mann ki Baat - Chai Ke Saath was organized at 50,000 polling booths of the state, as part of the BJP's mass contact programme in retaliation to a derogatory meme by the Youth Congress, which taunted the Prime Minister for his tea-selling days.
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BJP National President Amit Shah attended the programme in Dariyapur, considered a "sensitive area". Finance Minister Arun Jaitley tuned in from Sabarmati. Railways Minister Piyush Goyal was to attend the programme in Mahatma Gandhi's Porbandar and Information and Broadcasting Minister Smriti Irani at Junagarh.
A dozen-odd union ministers, BJP functionaries and state leaders got together for the special Mann ki Baat - Chai Ke Saath, organised at polling booths. The ministers will later attend rallies and public meetings across the state.
The BJP is pushing in its top leaders -- 26 cabinet ministers, six Chief Ministers and a dozen parliamentarians -- to cover the state over the next few weeks.
The other Union ministers who will be in Gujarat for the campaign are Dharmendra Pradhan and Uma Bharti. A number of Chief Ministers, including Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, has been chipping in from time to time.
The Congress has alleged that Gujarat is fresh proof to its claim that the Prime Minister is election-obsessed and ready to pull top minsters off running the country and reassign them for campaigning.
"Since Modi saheb has come (into power), the entire cabinet has been converted into a campaign committee headed by the chairman, the PM," senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad had said.
The BJP says its ministers also happen to be party leaders and they are capable of carrying out both tasks -- campaigning and governance, together.
"We can multi-task and work 24x7 and take care of both," defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman, who was in Ahmedabad on Friday, had said.
The big BJP push in Gujarat -- a state full of small and medium businesses -- despite being in power for 22 years is seen as a sign of the ruling party's nervousness over the reaction to Goods and Services Tax. The flagship GST has been lauded as a key reform, but small traders have expressed reservations about its complex structure and rules for filing returns, most of which has now been simplified.