The city of Surat, home to nearly 10 lakh north Indians, is the cause of headache for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). There are nearly 10 lakh north Indians settled in Surat. In at least five assembly seats, their vote is the difference between winning and losing.
The community is so angry at the saffron party that Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath was scheduled to be flown into the city in an attempt to sway the voters back to BJP’s fold.
Yogi’s arrival was targeted at making the atmosphere conducive for the last public meeting of PM Modi in the city. In the beginning, news was that he would hold a press conference with the 14 newly elected mayors of UP. But eventually, it was BJP’s UP incharge, Mahendra Pandey, who addressed the media with the newly elected mayors.
The disillusionment of the north Indians with the BJP is a very strong and open one. Rail Sangharsh Samiti has emerged as a focal point of the resentment of north Indians in Surat, Bharuch and the surrounding areas.
Rail Sangharsh Samiti launched its candidate Ajay Choudhary from the assembly constituency of Chaurasi.
Originally from Bihar, Ajay Choudhary started out with the BJP where his job involved building bridges with the north Indian community. But this time around, he is opposing the BJP due to party’s apparent disregard of their concerns, with limited train connectivity between north India and Surat causing the most friction.
“For the past many years, we have been demanding a train service from Surat to north India. There is only one train from here to north India, Taapti Ganga. Around a lakh people from the Poorvanchal region alone are settled here,” Choudhary said.
The former BJP member recalled that the BJP was at the forefront in demanding a train link when Congress was in power.
“But nothing has happened even after the BJP came to power at Centre,” he added.
He further complained that the BJP hadn’t kept its promise of giving a ticket to a member of the north Indian community.
“This can’t be tolerated anymore. It is a question of pride for north Indians. We will ruin BJP’s gameplan here and in the rest of Gujarat,” he warned.
Yajuvendra Dubey, who hails from Allahabad, is another founding member of the Rail Sangharsh Samiti. Dubey reasoned that Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh and UP CM Yogi Adityanath were brought in for campaigning in Gujarat in order to placate the anger of north Indians.
“This is Yogi Adityanath’s third public meeting. His last two meetings turned out to be damp squibs. There were not even 150 people in Manoj Tiwari’s meeting. In Rajnath’s meeting, only about 300 people came. That is why, the BJP is pulling out all stops to win in Chaurasi and Limbayat assembly constituencies,” Dubey said.
Dubey said that north Indian voters could impact the outcome in 4-5 constituencies in Surat.
“For instance, there are 1.5 lakh north Indian voters in Chaurasi. If we include Rajasthani voters, then the number shoots up to 1.94 lakh. Besides, there are 35,000 north Indian voters in the Udna assembly constituency, another 30,000 in Majura and 22,000 in Limbayat,” he said.
Rail Sangharsh Samiti claims that they are joining hands with Hardik Patel in Surat, along with other parties who could defeat the BJP in upcoming Gujarat polls.