Ahmedabad, Jun 29: AAP convenor Arvind Kejriwal's scheduled visit to Gujarat next week has been cancelled after a trade body which had invited him to Surat withdrew the invitation due to pressure from the state government, the party alleged on Wednesday.
"Surat Vehapari Mahamandal had invited Arvind Kejriwalji for felicitation and speech on July 10. Kejriwalji was to start his 2017 election campaign for Gujarat by visiting Somnath temple on July 9 and Surat the next day," AAP state chief Kanu Kalsaria told PTI.
"The trade body had booked a hall of (Veer Narmad) South Gujarat University for the function after proper written invitation, to which Kejriwalji had given a date of July 10," Kalsaria said.
Kejriwal, whose party had earlier announced that it will fight all 182 Assembly seats in Gujarat in the 2017 polls, was to kickstart his campaign in the state by seeking blessings of Lord Somnath, and addressing a gathering in Surat city.
"However, when the state government came to know about it, it exerted pressure on the trade body and the university. The body comprising of small traders of Surat buckled under pressure and has withdrawn the invitation. The hall booking has also been cancelled by the South Gujarat University," Kalsaria alleged.
"We tried to convince the trade body but they told us that it was hard to sustain the pressure exerted by the state government," he said, adding that they were small traders and feared the government could disrupt their businesses.
"The South Gujarat University told us that they have withdrawn the permission to hold the function in their premises on July 10 as they have another function on the same day. We don't know how true is that," Kalsaria said.
However, not being disheartened by the developments, the state AAP unit has decided to hold Kejriwal's mega rally in the state in next two months when the party will kickstart its campaign for the state elections.
"We will hold a mega rally in Gujarat to kickstart our campaign for the state polls in which Kejriwal will remain present. He has decided not to visit Somnath also as Surat visit has been cancelled," he said.
The Assembly election in Gujarat, the home state of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, is due in later half of 2017.