The number two in Chhattisgarh’s BJP unit, Brijmohan Agarwal, stopped at a roadside stall and had tea during his morning walk Sunday. Hours later, his office mailed a press statement and his photograph with the tea-seller. The mail’s subject: “Modi Effect — Brijmohan sat at a stall and enjoyed tea”.
In an apparent reference to the party’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi, who once sold tea, the press release went on to say: “Modi effect — The heavyweight BJP leader of the state Brijmohan Agarwal today stopped at Mehtru’s gumti (stall) at Ramsagar Para. He enjoyed tea as he discussed various issues with friends.”
The photograph shows a visibly amused tea-seller, Mehtru, with Agarwal, who held the PWD and education portfolios during Raman Singh’s second tenure.
But later, speaking to The Indian Express, Agarwal denied that his tea session had any link with Modi’s past.
Explaining the ‘Modi effect’, he said, “Whenever I go out, I stay with people. Modi’s message is to be with common man like a common man. That’s why I have won elections by increasing margins.” Agarwal is the only MLA in Chhattisgarh to have won six consecutive Assembly polls.
Agarwal’s brush with Modi dates back to 2000, when he was visiting the newly-created Chhattisgarh as the state’s BJP observer. Agarwal, then the tallest BJP leader, wanted to be the leader of opposition. But as Modi and the central leadership proposed another name, Agarwal’s supporters got angry and created a ruckus at the party meeting, forcing Modi to hide under a table. Agarwal was subsequently suspended from the party.