A section of the famous market place, Radhanpur Chowkdi in Mehsana was extremely supportive of Prime Minister Modi as we saw in Are The People Of Mehsana Confident That BJP Will Return To Power in Gujarat, Team Jan Ki Baat, led by Founding Member Akriti Bhatia along with our reporters, Nishchal and Anirudh came across very different point of views in the same market. Before exploring the varied views at Radhanpur Chowkdi, let’s look at some key facts about Mehsana:
Constituencies: Kheralu, Unjha, Visnagar, Mehsana, Bechraji, Kadi, Vijapur.
Date of Election: 14-12-17
Phase – 2
Number of Registered Voters: 1584645
Akriti and Nischal talked to a few women stall owners at Radhanpur Chowkdi. These women were visibly upset because of the price rise in commodities. One of them went on to say, “How do we sustain such a price rise? Narendra Modi has done nothing till now.”
Another woman also put forward her view. “We sell vegetables for a business. It is very slow right now.”
Next, Nischal spoke to a few members of the small crowd that had gathered Team Jan Ki Baat. Price rise in staple commodities was a matter that was repeatedly brought up. A voter was distressed about the conditions they were forced to live in owing to the price rise. “We don’t have a roof on our heads. We are forced to sleep on roads due to excessive price rise. The municipality is causing us a lot of troubles. They don’t let hawkers like us to run our small businesses.” The next voter also called out the hindrances caused by the Municipality.
Next, Akriti spoke to a voter who was vocally against the incumbent government. “Congress should come to the power. BJP has harassed us a lot.” When asked about his views on Hardik Patel and Nitin Patel, he said, “Hardik is not wrong in asking for reservations. They should get reservations since they are Patidars and they should get reservations. He also said that everyone should get reservations.” He went on to say that he wanted to see a Congress Chief Minister in the state. “BJP and the inflation it has caused has ruined us”, he concluded.
Many people following him were also convinced that they needed a change and were supportive of the Congress Party. “We want congress”, concluded an elderly male, that reflected the overall mood there.
As we moved on, Nischal spoke to a local businessman who was very upset with the Prime Minister. “He promises something and delivers something else. Congress will come to power here. The BJP government has failed to contain the illegal sale of liquor”, he said.
Nischal then spoke to a young voter who said, “BJP or Congress do not matter. We want a government that works.” On asked about Hardik Patel, he refused to share his views with us.
The next voter, when asked about Hardik Patel and Nitinbhai Patel by Akriti, said “Hardik Patel is a good person. The CD scandal was very wrong. BJP has paid someone to do that.” “Jivabhai Patel from Congress is more influential than Nitinbhai”, he said before concluding. Nischal’s conversation with the next citizen revealed more discontent with the incumbent government. The miffle aged man said, “The government is on a picnic since 22 years and hasn’t done any real work.”
Anirudh then took over and asked a few businessmen about GST and Demonetisation. The first in line said, “The atmosphere for the elections is good. Development has happened. Even though GST is a good step, it would’ve been more favourable if it was implemented a little later. Due to such hasty implementation, we faced a few problems.” Anirudh went on to ask him about Nitin Patel. “Nitin Patel will win but the demand for reservations is also right”, he claimed.
The next businessman whole heartedly supported GST, “GST is a right step”, he said. He went on to say, “BJP holds the edge for this election and obviously there will be some people who support Congress as well” When asked about a numerical expectation, he said, “BJP will win 135 seats.” “Though the demand for reservation by Patidars is right, it is not possible to have it because of the Formula”, he further added.
The next citizen, when asked about the key issues, said, “My key issue for this election is Vikaas. I believe Narendra Modi has ensured development.” He rejected the #VikaasGandoThayoChe charge against the government.
A young voter quipped, “Reservations for all the communities must be scrapped. Even for Dalits. Reservations were meant to be there only for 10 years.”
As we moved further, more and more discontent towards the BJP government was evident in this area. Akriti, Anirudh, and Nischal analyzed that the pain points of the residents, primarily farmers, here included GST, Demonetization, price rise, and lack of development.
A lot of people supported the cause that Hardik Patel has been fighting for and blamed BJP for releasing his controversial videos. A lot of dissatisfaction about how farmers have fared under this government was spoken about. People were also unhappy with the government because of how the government has allowed the sale of alcohol under its nose. People also raised questions about Jay Shah’s meteoric rise.
To sum it up, after two doing two live interactions at Radhanpur Chowkdi, a lot of substantial issues have been brought up and the battle in Battleground Mehsana seems to be intense. What remains to be seen is if issues like price rise and Patidars will hand Congress a solid chance.