Prime Minister Narendra Modi will celebrate his 66th birthday in Gujarat on Saturday. His two-day visit, which begins on Friday, is expected to be a shot in the arm for the ruling BJP that has been facing the ire of dalits and Patidars.
Modi will visit his younger brother Pankaj’s residence in Gandhinagar and seek his mother's blessings on Saturday. As the chief minister of Gujarat, Modi had made it an annual ritual to seek his mother's blessings and spend a few minutes with her on his birthday. Though Saturday's visit is not part of the official itinerary, it is believed that he would begin the day by visiting his mother.
Patidars in the state have been demanding reservation under the OBC category. Though the demand was rejected by the state government, citing Supreme Court guidelines of not increasing the reservation beyond 49 per cent, Patels have continued their agitation.
Recently, during a programme organised by a section of Patidars to felicitate Patel MLAs, a few Patels went on a rampage. Amit Shah, who was also present, and Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani had to cut short their speeches.
Meanwhile, dalits have been demanding justice for the Una flogging incident and Thangadh firing case, where three dalit youth were killed by the police.
The OBCs, who are criticising the recent hooch tragedy of Surat that claimed several lives, have threatened to write lakhs of post cards to Gujarat’s brand ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. In sharp contrast to his campaign "Khushboo Gujarati Ki" (fragrance of Gujarat), post cards will be titled "Badboo Gujarat Ki" (stench of Gujarat).
Meanwhile, for the BJP, the PM’s visit is an opportunity to re-energise its rank and file. The party has aimed at 5 lakh downloads for the Narendra Modi app in order to coincide with his birthday in the next couple of days.
Gujarat BJP spokesperson Bharat Pandya told THE WEEK that the app, available in Hindi and English, has details of the Central government schemes. The interactive app also enables a person to give suggestions about schemes and critical notes as well. It also enables people to directly interact with the Prime Minister, he said.
The BJP, he said, will be providing facility for Wifi in areas, like universities and colleges, dominated by youth. The app has many features, including the Prime Minister’s take on various issues and his radio talks "Mann ki baat".
Sources said while the mood in the party is upbeat, senior party leaders are worried after the incident at Shah’s programme. However, officially leaders say that arrangements would be done as per the protocol.
On Saturday morning, after visiting his mother, Modi is expected to hold a meeting with Rupani and other senior party leaders. He will then inaugurate an irrigation scheme in Limkheda and will head to Navsari in South Gujarat where he would distribute aids to differently abled people. Later, he will leave for New Delhi from Surat airport.