EDISON, NJ (TIP): New Jersey based Indian Americans with strong ties with native Gujarat state along with the Gujarati language channel TV 9 hosted an open forum public debate on the current election in Gujarat at Royal Albert’s Palace in Fords New Jersey on Monday, December 10, 2012. There were more than 300 people who were quite entertained as an event of this nature was very unique in concept. The hosts of the event Hitesh “Lalbhai” Patel and Albert Jasani were overjoyed to see the turnout at this historic event.
The event was started by a very patriotic Guajarati song, sung by Nafish Khan. The moderator had 10 questions to ask the panel. It started with a coin toss to see who would go first. The first question went to the Congress panel and they would each get 2 minutes to answer the question and 1 minute for rebuttal. There were two panels on stage, one panel held the views and beliefs of the BJP party and the other panel represented the views and beliefs of the Congress Party. The third political party headed by former BJP leader Keshubhai Patel was not represented at the debate.
The BJP team introduced by Mukesh Kashiwala, included Jayesh Patel who headed it, Suresh Jani, Arvind Patel, Rajubhai Patel, and Nimesh Dikshit. The Congress team was introduced by Viru Patel and included Anil Patel as head, Atma Singh, Mahesh Patel, Juned Qazi, and Pradip “Peter” Kothari. The moderator for the debate was Sanjeev Pandya and the moderator coordinator was Bharat Mehta. Many dignitaries from various Gujarati organizations witnessed this event. Some said that corruption was still a pivotal topic on people’s minds that still needed to be addressed. It was a very disciplined and interesting debate though the panels were not always focused on the questions, often deviating from the main theme.
The fact that they represented their party reflected in all of their answers. Often combative, the debaters were well prepared and took jibes at each other as also praising opponents on certain issues. But neither side could claim victory in the debate which may have a great impact on the people that are going to view it back in Gujarat as well as those viewing it here in the United States. Anil Patel, leader of Congress panel was given two minutes to make a case. BJP supporters argued that Gujarat was making great stride under the leadership of Chief Minister Narendra Modi.
Juned Qazi, president of Madhya Pradesh chapter of Indian National Overseas Congress criticized Modi’s leadership in Gujarat, and said that Modi didn’t deserve any credit for the progress of Gujarat. He accused Modi of promoting communal policies in Gujarat. Qazi said that there was no place for religiocentric politics in India. Atma Singh, president of Indian Congress Party, USA, said that Modi should leave Gujarat and try his luck in national politics indirectly indicating that Modi was unable to succeed in national politics of India.