The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is all set for a massive showdown in poll-bound Gujarat days after a meme was put out on the official Twitter handle of "Yuva Desh", Indian Youth Congress's online magazine, targeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi as 'Chai-Wala'.
Gujarat BJP is organising a statewide programme, "Mann Ki Baat, Chai Ke Saath," on Sunday in a bid to counter the grand old party. A dozen odd union ministers, along with 30 top ranking BJP functionaries, and over 150 state leaders would be descending in Gujarat to participate in the events that would be organised at the polling booths across the state.
"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, told NDTV.
PM Modi talks about national issues in his monthly radio address "Mann Ki Baat," which is broadcast on All India Radio.
BJP National President Amit Shah will participate in the "Mann Ki Baat, Chai Ke Saath" programme in Dariyapur. "It's considered a sensitive area," said a senior BJP party worker.
While Finance Minister Arun Jaitley will attend the event in Sabarmati, Railway Minister Piyush Goel will mark his presence in Porbandar. Information and Broadcast Minister Smriti Irani will attend the event in Junagarh, and BJP MP Paresh Rawal will register his attendance in Rajkot.
The party aims to encash the sentiment of "Gujarat pride" through the programme.
"Our PM has earned respect not just in India, but across the globe. Congress leaders do not understand the strength of the common man and make fun of him. The Congress leaders are misusing the social media because they are desperate," Mr Yadav said.
Youth Congress' online magazine "Yuva Desh" kicked up a row earlier this week when a meme, mocking PM Modi, was shared on its official Twitter handle. The picture showed PM Modi standing with British Prime Minister Theresa May and US President Donald Trump. As Mr Trump corrected PM Modi's pronunciation of "meme," Ms May mocked him further saying "Tu chai bech" (you're better off at selling tea).
However, after the meme triggered controversy, the Youth Congress tendered an apology and removed the tweet.
Senior Congress leader Gulam Nabi Azad also admitted it was a mistake to share such a meme. "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 told NDTV.
"They abuse democracy and also our leaders like Mahatma Gandhi, Indira Gandhi, Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru day in and day out but they never say sorry," Mr Azad, who is also in-charge of Gujarat Congress, said.