BJP aims to fly high with new Gujarat airport
Plans to sweep Saurashtra by inaugurating it just ahead of polls; analysts draw parallels with Noida airport project
NEW DELHI: The upcoming international airport in the Sourashtra region of Gujarat is gaining the attention of political analysts as the state heads for Assembly polls early next year. Some of them are comparing the greenfield airport project with the Jewar airport project, located on the outskirts of Delhi NCR, which was launched just ahead of the Uttar Pradesh polls. Even though the ruling BJP in UP had apprehended big losses in the agriculture-dominated western UP, the narrative of development — centred around the mega airport project — woven by the ruling dispensation paid it dividends in the region.
BJP leaders in Gujarat, too, are hopeful that the greenfield airport, being built in Rajkot at a cost of `1,405 crore on over 1,032 hectare non-agriculture land, will help it tide over the anti-incumbency among the voters in the parched Saurashtra. The new airport is most likely to be inaugurated a few months ahead of the polls.
Being the fourth largest city in Gujarat, Rajkot is the commercial hub of Saurashtra. In the previous Assembly election, the BJP, promising an international airport among other soaps, had won 31 out of 54 seats — including seven out of eight in Rajkot — in Saurashtra. “This time too, if the new airport is completed and dedicated, no doubt, the BJP will have more seats than it had won in the last time,” remarked local shopkeeper Ramesh Patel, who claimed to have not voted for the BJP last time but said he would vote for the party if the airport is made operational.
There were several small vendors, bus drivers and college students who eagerly looked forward to the opening of the new airport. Brajesh Kumar, 35, running a bookstall in Rajkot, said: “We didn’t vote for the BJP last time, but will consider it if the airport is opened.”
Manu Bhai, 45, a garment seller, said the airport will fetch electoral support to the BJP depending upon it commissioning and who inaugurates it; PM Modi or somebody else. Virendra Sachdeva, a member of BJP’s ‘Good-Governance Cell’, believes development works such as Rajkot airport would help the party in getting larger electoral support.