Cyclone Ockhi weakened but hits Gujarat campaign trail

RSTV Bureau
Prime Minister Narendra Modi during election campaign in Bhuj on 27 November 2017. PTI

File photo of Prime Minister Narendra Modi during election campaign in Gujarat. PTI

Election rallies of Prime Minister Modi and Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi were cancelled as cyclone Ockhi, even though now weakened, is expected to hit southern part of poll-bound Gujarat. Besides the two, the rallies of BJP chief Amit Shah and several other political bigwigs scheduled for Wednesday were also cancelled.

While BJP deferred Modi’s Surat rally till Thursday, Rahul Gandhi’s public meetings in Morbi, Dhrangadhra and Surendranagar towns were called off.

The prime minister, meanwhile, appealed to BJP workers to extend a helping hand to those who are likely be hit by the cyclone.

The IMD has forecast light to moderate rainfall in most places with heavy rainfall at isolated places in Saurashtra and south Gujarat.

However, Modi’s all three other rallies in Dhandhuka, Dahod and Netrang will take place on Wednesday as scheduled.

“We had earlier announced that the prime minister will be in Gujarat on December 6, 8 and 9 to address 12 rallies. Tomorrow’s rally in Surat was supposed to be the last among the four scheduled rallies. The Surat rally has been now postponed to December 7,” a BJP leader said.

According to the release, remaining eight rallies of Modi in different parts of Gujarat scheduled for December 8 and 9 will take place.

File photo of Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi addressing a public meeting in Gujarat.  PTI Photo

File photo of Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi addressing a public meeting in Gujarat.
PTI Photo

Though the impending cyclone has also hit Rahul Gandhi’s planed meetings in Narmada, Dang and Tapi districts, he will now address public meetings at Chhotaudepur, Ahmedabad, Anand, and in Kheda district on December 8, a Congress release said.

On Tuesday, Amit Shah’s campaign meetings in Rajula town in Amreli district and in Mahuva and Shihor towns in Bhavnagar district were cancelled.

Similarly, BJP MP Manoj Tiwari’s road show in Bapunagar area of the city was also cancelled due to showers since early morning, Bapunagar MLA Jagroopsinh Rajput said. The BJP also called off rallies and press conferences of Yogi Adityanath and Vasundhara Raje, chief ministers of Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan, respectively, which were scheduled to be held in Surat.

Former Congress strongman and “Jan Vikalp” front head Shankersinh Vaghela was also forced to cancel his road shows and rallies today at Junagadh, Mahuva and Palitana towns of Saurashtra.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Narendra Modi appealed his party workers to focus on providing assistance to the people likely to be hit by the cyclonic storm.

“With CycloneOckhi expected to make a landfall in Gujarat, I appeal to BJP Gujarat Karyakartas (workers) to focus on helping people across the state. Our Karyakartas should devote themselves to providing all possible assistance and stand shoulder to shoulder with fellow citizens,” Modi tweeted.

BJP leaders in Surat suspended all their campaign-related work and began shifting people to safer places, the ruling party MLA from Surat’s Majura seat, Harsh Sanghvi, said.

Gujarat chief secretary JN Singh interacted with the collectors of coastal districts via video conference to review their preparedness to deal with any eventuality.

(With inputs from PTI)