Ahmedabad: Till lately, Ahmedabad's Daryapur was a notorious hub of criminal activities. This was where Gujarat's dreaded don Abdul Latif, who went on to become a close associate of Dawood Ibrahim, started his career. But on Sunday, its narrow lanes crawled with policemen and were dotted with pickets and metal detectors as BJP chief Amit Shah set up camp for the BJP's "Mann ki baat - chai ke saath" programme.
The programme 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 raked up the Prime Minister's tea-selling days to taunt him.
Along with BJP workers, Mr Shah sat at Tambu Chowki, the central market of Daryapur. Tea was distributed in special paper cups carrying the photograph of the Prime Minister -- the beverage brewed in the oldest shop in the area -- as his radio address blared through two dozen loudspeakers. A huge LED television screen was hung in front.
The entire state level BJP machinery has been active to make the programme a success. BJP workers could be seen ushering in people. Women in hijabs were given front row seats.
Mr Shah is the first BJP top notch leader to campaign in Daryapur, a Muslim-majority area. BJP state level spokesperson Jagdish Bhavsar said Amit Shah specially chose the area as the party wanted to send a message of peace and development for everyone.
"This is a communally sensitive area. Before 1995 lot many violent incidents were reported from here and most of the time curfew was imposed here," said Mr Bhavsar, adding that since the BJP came to power, the situation has improved.
"This area was a place where bootleggers used to have their hideouts but now that has changed. In last 22 years the 'don raj' has changed to 'builder raj'. All 'bhais' have become traders," said a local shopkeeper.
But part of the BJP emphasis on Daryapur is due to the fact that it belongs to the Congress. In the 2012 assembly elections, Gyasuddin Habibuddin Sheikh won with 60,967 votes. Daryapur is, in fact, one of the two seats in Ahmedabad that are with the Congress. The rest - 14 seats - are under BJP's control. And given the steep target Amit Shah declared for the party - 150 of the state's 182 seats - the Congress-controlled seats have been marked for special attention.
"It was good to hear the Prime Minister say that he wants all-inclusive growth of all communities and harmony in the society," said a maulana in Daryapur. "We want peace, so we want the BJP here," said another resident.
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. PM Modi is expected to visit Gujarat on November 27 and 29 and address eight rallies in Saurashtra and south Gujarat, which go to polls on December 9.