V.K. Tripathi


I visited Vadodara for 3 days, April 17-19, 2014. Narendra Modi is contesting Loksabha election from here. Congress has fielded Madhusudan Mistry, its strategist and grassroots man, against him. Mistry’s candidature has galvanized non-political social groups to come in open against the Modi cult. Thirty  such groups have formed “Peoples’ Forum for Madhusudan Mistry”. One hundred fifty of their volunteers are campaigning in the area.


Sadbhav Mission is not a part of this Mistry campaign. However, our valuable colleague and Sdabhav Mission core group member, Prof. Mehrunnisa Desai, called me from Ahmedabad and suggested that the “Loksabha chunaav ke mudde (election note)”  fliers, that I have been taking to people in Delhi and elsewhere, were relevant for Vadodara. I talked to Indu Bhai Jani and he also expressed similar views. Hence I decided to go to Vadodara to campaign against Corporate-communal nexus and media ‘s partisan indulgence.


I reached Vadodara on April 17 at 12 noon with 2500 copies of the Hindi flier, “Loksabha Chunav ke mudde”. I left my bag at the University Guest House, talked to friends at the University and went to Manjalpur to meet Raju Purohit, a long time social activist, and his wife Deepti who were looking after Mistry’s campaign in the city. There I met volunteers of Disha. They shared their experiences in talking to people about Mistry. At 3 PM 8 ladies/ girls of the group left for localities with fliers introducing Mistry. I joined them with our own fliers. The girls distributed fliers door to door. I went to people where ever they were sitting/ standing in groups of three or more, gave them fliers and talked about the storm created by one sided media propaganda. It helped girls morale. By 5 PM girls left. I continued by myself till 8:30 PM. The response was not hostile as I had anticipated. Nearly half the people agreed with me that media’s indulgence for Modi was unjustified. Many agreed that he represented the interests of the top rich. Towards the end of the day I met a group of ten educated elderly people sitting near a bus stop. They expressed their disapproval for my views and strongly supported Modi. Some even said that Godse (Nathuram Godse was the man who killed Gandhi) was needed today who could kill Congress leaders. I argued with them for 20 minutes while they revealed their sectarian ideology.


Next morning I left the guest house at 7:20 AM and walked to Prof. J.S. Bandukwala’s home. He was very warm. He apprised me of the situation in the city and dropped me at Navaya, the area with poor and lower middle class people from Hindu and Muslim communities. It was a very heartening experience. Instantly people could connect with me. They agreed with my assessment of media and Modi and felt the need for bringing up leaders who could take masses of all communities and all strata along. Many people read the flier in total. By 11:15 AM, Dr. Sujat Vali brought 4000 copies of the Gujarati flier, “Loksabha chunaav ke sandarbh mein atmnirikshan ki appeal ” that Prof. Ashwin Karia so ably translated from our English flier, “An appeal for self-introspection in the context of Loksabha elections”. The flier also contained an appeal from eight prominent social activists. I kept 1500 copies of the flier with me and Dr. Vali carried 2500 copies with him for distribution in Godhra, Lunawada and Bala Sinor.


At 12 noon I reached Zenith School and held fruitful discussions with Chairman Shri Abbasi Barodawala, Principal Mrs. Poornima Bhatt and teachers. Then I went to adjoining areas. By 3 PM I had met 500 people. At 3 PM I met Deepti. She offered lunch. Immediately afterwards, Advaita, a lawyer social activist from Ahmedabad, took me to an area where 10 women volunteers were campaigning. We held a short meeting and then went on door to door drive. We met a stiff group of ten people from not so privileged class. Their element of fanaticism was disappointing. By 5 PM these girls left and continued campaigning through Pratap Nagar, Gandy Gate, Moghulwada, Mandvi, Naya Mandir area and markets uptil 8:30 PM. There were several heartening responses. At 9 PM I met Raju Bhai and Deepti. At 10 PM I reached the Guest House.


On April 19, I began the campaign at 7:30 AM. I walked through the localities, talking to people and giving fliers, and reached uncovered areas of Navaya. The response was warm. I encountered the Congress Corporator and a group of 10 volunteers. They liked the fliers and felt energized. By noon I returned to Guest House, picked the bag, met friends at the University and reached the station at 1:30 PM. For 30 minutes I distributed fliers at the platforms. My return reservation was not cleared hence faced some difficulty traveling to Delhi. However, in the train I exhausted all my fliers (from bogeys S1 to S12) and won many hearts.


The situation in Vadodara is far better than one senses through the media hype. People at the grassroots have little respect for Modi’s words and deeds. Mistry may provide an outlet for peoples’ disenchantment. Next one week’s campaigning will be crucial. Elections will beheld on April 30.

Top - Home