By staging the eight-km stretch roadshow along with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his wife Akie, and making a visit of Masjid premises, Prime Minister Narendra Modi today virtually kickstarted his poll campaign for the ensuing assembly elections in his home state Gujarat. "This is a well orchestrated strategy and a near political master stroke," said educationist Rupam kumar Goradia, who said he would be keeping close eyes on the roadshow and Abe's visit to Gujarat as it gives a right message to seek investment. In fact, several women who gathered near the Sabarmati Riverfront, a brainchild of PM Modi, welcomed the fact that both Abe and his wife Akie Abe quickly changed to Indian attire before joining for the roadshow along side Prime Minister Modi.
While Abe put on kurta pyjama, his wife was in a Gujarati outfit. Both Mr Abe and his wife Akie enthusiastically waved hands riding an open-top vehicle to the large gathering on both sides. In many locations cultural groups performed jubilantly and common people especially students and young women stood waving tri-colour as also Japanese flags displaying the new found bonhomie between India and Japan. There will be delegation level talks between two sides at around 1200 noon tomorrow. A few agreements are expected to be signed, Joint Secretary East Asia, Pranay Verma, has said. Prime Minister Modi accompanied by Abe also reached the 500-year-old Siddi Saiyad Mosque situated near Lal Darwaza built by the erstwhile Sultanate of Gujarat. PM Modi guided his guests and showed them the popular Siddi Sayyaid ki Jaali, an excellent model of Indo-Saracenic architecture. The intricately carved stone window is part of a great attraction of the historic masjid. Mr Modi's visit to Mosque premises is significant as he has been enjoying quite a unique relationship with Muslims especially in view of the now infamous 2002 mayhem in the state. "There's nothing wrong in our PM Modi visiting a Mosque...May be he could have gone earlier also," said Manav Rana, a young management staff in a popular city hotel.
The Japanese PM will also participate at an India-Japan Business Plenary session. A high-level delegation of Japanese business captains are also accompanying the Japanese Prime Minister. According to a Ahmedabad-based businessman, "Politically, Mr Modi's intent to showcase Ahmedabad-Gandhinagar -- his onetime karmabhoomi - as the 'neo-developmental face' of India assumes significance in view of ensuing polls. Both the BJP and the Prime Minister Modi have high stakes in this year's polls. Mr Modi himself ruled the state from 2001 up to May 2014 when he moved to the national capital as Prime Minister. BJP is in power in the state since 1990s. The principal opposition Congress was in power last time in the state in 1995 when then popular Chabbildas Mehta was the Chief Minister. The political battle between the BJP and the Congress intensified lately after the recent Rajya Sabha elections where despite all machinations and political upheavals senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel could retain his berth in the Upper House of Parliament. "It is true, BJP has a lot in stake in this year's elections," said a Muslim citizen Yusuf Shaikh. Agrees several BJP supporters among the gathering at Sabarmati Riverfront, who say that is why the BJP president Amit Shah has set a target of over 150 seats in the 182-member assembly. "There is high level of expectation and at the same time everyone is being made accountable. Both PM Modi and BJP chief Shah are known as tough task masters," said Naveen Kumar, a local BJP worker from Vastrapur.