If 2014 saw a Modi wave in India, the 2019 general elections just witnessed a Modi Tsunami. The landslide victory of Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led NDA government proved that Indians wanted a majority government at the Centre. Not only the party supporters in India, but non-resident Indians too had been toiling hard to ensure a BJP win and return of Narendra Modi government.
Many hours before the ECI announced the final results, the Oversees Friends of BJP (OFBJP), Nigeria Chapter, had been in a jubilant mood. Since early Thursday morning, congratulatory messages were being exchanged, sweets distributed and their social media pages were abuzz with activity. Their phones would not stop buzzing as the counting began.
The members had been glued to their TV sets since 2 am as Nigeria is four and a half hours behind India. The party performed better than their expectations, and excitement is palpable in the voices of the office-bearers. The members broke into celebrations, dancing, beating drums and exchanging sweets, as the trends became clear.
The Nigeria chapter of OFBJP came into existence just before the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. Its chairman Sanjay Srivastava, who lives in Lagos, said: “We knew the elections were going to be tough, so we tried to do everything that we could while sitting here. We organised a lot of events in the run-up to the elections to make the voters aware and all this has paid off.”
But where does the money for these events come from?
“We don’t get any funds from India, neither do we send anything back home. For all our events like ‘chai pe charcha’, ‘run for unity’, which saw participation of around 700 NRIs, we collected money from our own pockets and a few corporates that believe in our vision contributed. All that the party expects from us is to motivate people and if possible devote our time. Many of our supporters went back home to vote and a couple of them even worked on the ground to campaign for their candidates,” Srivastava added.
The office-bearers of OFBJP, Nigeria Chapter, credited the success of the win to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, party chief Amit Shah and Vijay Chauthaiwale, chief of the BJP NRI cell.
“Today is a big day for us. We held a meeting and to discuss the details for the party on Saturday. We have asked our patron NG Patel, who hails from PM’s home state, to chair the function, wherein we will make a list of our aspirations which would be sent to the government. Saturday’s event would be open to all and we are planning to call in drummers from Kerala Samajam, Maratha Mandal and local Nigerian musicians. It will be a party to remember,” said Srivastava.
His deputy, OFBJP vice-president Kiran Gosavi, who is based in the Nigerian capital of Abuja, is planning a bigger event this weekend. “We had vowed that we would all pray together at the Hanuman temple if Modi ji wins. So today we are just praying and distributing sweets. Weekend will see bigger celebrations,” said an elated Gosavi. “It’s such a joyous occasion that our hard work has paid off. In fact, during elections, I spent a month in India campaigning for the party in Nashik and New Delhi,” he added.
In northern Nigeria’s Kano, the committee members of OFBJP held a meeting on Thursday and decided to organise a dinner party on Saturday, said member Ashok Lokhande.
Sweet surprise at Indian store
Customers at The Indian Bazaar, Illupeju, Lagos, were in for a sweet surprise on Thursday when the staff at the store offered them laddoos. “Die-hard BJP fan” Rajesh Mehta, who runs a chain of Indian stores in Nigeria, said: “We knew Modi was going to win, so I had asked my staff to make 1001 laddoos, which we distributed among our customers on Thursday. Not just Indians, Nigerians who know about Modi also relished the Indian dessert.”