The former students of Alfred High School, from where Mahatma Gandhi completed his matriculation in 1887, are batting for BJP this election season. The New Indian Team spoke to staff members, former students of this living memory of Bapu’s formative years which has stood tall through many political changes in the state.
Octogenarian Suresh T Sanghvi, who studied in the school in 1947 says, “I think the BJP has thorough touch with the downtrodden specially through RSS because the RSS workers work tremendously hard for their goal and no comparison with any other political party there. RSS does an excellent job in all kinds of calamities and that is why they are very popular among the masses.”
Rajkot which falls in the Saurashtra region has been a BJP stronghold and has an effective network of RSS workers. The Rajkot West seat within the jurisdiction of which Alfred school falls has given BJP three CMs – Keshubhai Patel, Narendra Modi and Vijay Rupani.
Dr Darshita Shah, daughter of Prafulla Joshi known to be close to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and granddaughter of a long-time RSS worker has been given the ticket from Rajkot West by BJP.
Sanghvi, who through the years has seen changing winds of politics through the years since independence, rues the fact that Congress party, which was born out of freedom struggle and in the pre-independence era shaped by Mahatma Gandhi’s ideals has lost its electoral edge over the years. “In the last two decades Congress has seen a crisis of leadership. Especially since Manohar Singh Jadeja ceased to be in politics congress has largely failed to keep live contact with the Congress,” he said.
A younger alumni of the same school who studied in the school in the 90s also bats for BJP. “No one else will come here except for BJP,” said Bharat Patiyar.
Other people from around the area too had similar reactions.
Haren Vyas, a young teacher says, “Freebies won’t work here. AAP is merely trying to cut votes. I think the BJP will return to power. If you look at the work being done nationally and globally by this government, it’s quite satisfactory.”
The school was converted into the Mahatma Gandhi Museum a few years back. Originally known as Mohandas Gandhi Vidhyalaya, Alfred High School, and Kathiawar High School, was founded with 36 students on October 17, 1853.
In the year 1887, Gandhiji graduated from Alfred High School (Kathiawar High School). Gandhiji was one of only two students in his matriculate year who had completed the high school entrance examination out of 38 students who had passed.
The Mahatma Gandhi Museum pays homage to Mohandas “Mahatma” Gandhi, the “Father of the Nation.” Rajkot Municipal Corporation (RMC) and Gujarat Tourism collaborate to run the Mahatma Gandhi Museum.
On September 30, 2018, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani, and Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel inaugurated the Mahatma Gandhi Museum in Rajkot as part of the 150th birth anniversary celebrations of Gandhiji.