In his inimitable manner, Prime Minister Narendra Modi wove his magic on Gujarat voters on Thursday and Friday. The occasion was the launch of Rs 29,000 crore worth projects and the opening of National Games, but during his visits, Modi took part in road shows in Surat and Bhavnagar in the presence of thousands of ecstatic supporters.
On Thursday night after inaugurating the National Games at Narendra Modi stadium, the world's largest, packed to capacity, Modi took a round of the entire stadium acknowledging greetings from almost one lakh spectators.
On Friday morning, Modi not only showed the green flag to Gandhinagar-Mumbai Vande Bharat Express, but also travelled from Gandhinagar to Kalupur. He also inaugurated Phase One of Ahmedabad Metro, and there too, he travelled in the Metro and met girl students during his brief travel. By Friday evening, he is expected to launch Rs 7,200-crore projects in Ambaji, apart from offering prayers at Ambaji temple. The ovation, slogans and ecstatic response from common Gujaratis clearly underlined the depth of Modi's relationship with people in his home state.
This was an indirect launch of Modi's poll campaign, as assembly elections in Gujarat are due by the end of this year. The excitement among common people was palpable as they lined both sides of the route, when Modi took out his road shows.
At some places, there were impromptu dances from folk dancers, singing of folk songs to welcome the son of their soil. Modi did not disappoint the crowds. At one place, he said, "I have come to Gujarat after a long time, but I am not empty handed. I will square up our old accounts fully", Modi said, while laying foundation or inaugurating projects worth Rs 29,000 crore.
At another place, Modi said, "I haven't forgotten Gujarati khaana(food), like the famous Govindbhai 'ganthia' of Bhavnagar, or the 'thaali' of Surat, but since I am observing Navratra fast, I am leaving without tasting Gujarati food this time."
Seeing the full turnout at the one lakh capacity Narendra Modi stadium during the launch of National Games, Modi said, "I do not have words to describe this atmosphere".
The huge turnout at the world's largest stadium was evocative of Modi's favourite slogan "Ek Bharat, Shreshtha Bharat" (One India, Excellent India). While inaugurating the National Games, Modi exhorted spectators to chant "Judega India, Toh Jitega India" (India is united, India shall win). Athletes from 36 states and union territories were present to give an ovation to Modi. Also present were sporting greats like Olympic medalists P. V. Sindhu, Neeraj Chopra, Ravi Dahiya and others.
On the eve of National Games, on Wednesday night, the Ahmedabad sky was lit with a drone show, designed and produced by an indigenous startup Botlab Dynamics. With the help of drones, a map of Gujarat, logo of National Games, an outline of Statue of Unity, and a map of India lighted up the sky. On the sky, was written "Welcome Hon'ble Prime Minister".
Gujarat had reasons to celebrate. Only three months back, Gujarat was asked to host the 36th National Games, as the hosting of the event in Goa was postponed several times. Nearly 15,000 sportspersons will take part in 36 disciplines. The matches will be held in Ahmedabad, Gandhinagar, Surat, Rajkot, Bhavnagar and Vadodara. The last National Games were held in Kerala in 2015. The seven year gap was due to Covid pandemic and several other reasons.
The Sardar Patel Sports Complex, where the National Games is being held, is special for several reasons. It has the world's largest stadium, and there are excellent facilities for hosting soccer, tennis and other sports events. Modi said there are few such sports complexes in the world where multi-disciplinary sports events can be held. He hoped that the National Games would surely give a boost to sporting culture in India.
Modi said, the numbers of Olympic medals won are clear indicators of the strength and power of nations. "I want to see India develop as a sports superpower and we will surely achieve this. At the Tokyo Olympics, our players won 17 medals", Modi said.
In Bhavnagar, Modi was welcomed by huge crowds wanting to have a glimpse of him. Modi becomes a pucca Gujarati, not a Prime Minister, whenever he visits his home state. In Gujarat, he is welcomed as the head of the family. As PM, he never alights from his helicopter at the meeting venue. He reaches the airport and takes out a road show from the airport till the meeting venue. This gives him a golden chance to interact with his people.
The common Gujaratis wait for hours to meet their leader. There were youths, women, senior citizens and kids, waiting on both sides of the roads to welcome the Prime Minister.
At his public meeting in Bhavnagar, Modi mentioned how Alang port near Bhavnagar was earlier famous as the world's famous shipyard for scraps. "Alang port now supplies containers to the world", Modi said.
While inaugurating the Sauni Yojana (Saurashtra Narmada Avtaran Irrigation) project, Modi reminded people how he had laid the foundation stone in 2012 as chief minister. "At that time, people had said that I have laid the foundation stone because of the approaching elections, and they had hoped that people will soon forget this promise. Today I am fulfilling that promise", Modi said. Sauni Yojana is a project in which overflowing flood water from Sardar Sarovar Dam is diverted to fill 115 major dams in water-parched Saurashtra.
In Surat, from where Modi started his two-day Gujarat tour, the Prime Minister took out a massive road show in an open vehicle, in the presence of thousands of supporters. Surat is considered the industrial hub of Gujarat, where lakhs of people from other states are employed in different industries. Here, Modi launched Rs 3,400 crore worth projects related to water supply, drainage system, diamond research and mercantile city named as Dream City, Biodiversity Park, BRTS Corridor, electric vehicles plant and several other projects.
Modi described Surat as a "Mini India" that gives value for labour, skill and talent. "Eighty thousand flats have been built for the poor people in Surat" , he said. The banks of Tapti river have been redeveloped and a new drainage system has been created, he added.
The hefts and weaves of Modi magic in Gujarat are here to stay. The adulation and ovation that the Prime Minister received from common people in Surat, Bhavnagar and Ahmedabad, clearly outline the contours of the coming Assembly elections, where the opposition is in a hopeless position.
BJP has been elected to power continuously in Gujarat for more than two decades. The party can boast of a well-organized and well-oiled election machinery. Added to this is the magic of Modi, who as chief minister, and later as Prime Minister, has cast a mind blowing spell on the people of Gujarat. The 'double engine sarkar' model, that Modi mentions in most of his speeches during state elections, has worked for the betterment of people and the state.