Municipal authorities in Ahmedabad have shut down a snacks outlet that grabbed national headlines two years ago when it hosted the first of then prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi’s popular poll campaign outreach programme, Chai pe Charcha.
Iskon Ganthia is part of a cluster of eight snack shops on the busy Sarkhej-Gandhinagar highway that was sealed last week. Authorities say the shops were operating without adequate parking spaces and the huge rush of customers would frequently trigger chaos on the highway.
“Despite several notices, the cluster of shops did not mend parking at their premises. It was sealed last week,” said an official from the municipal estate department.
Iskon Ganthia came under the spotlight on February 13, 2014 when then Gujarat chief minister Modi chose the outlet to launch Chai pe Charcha, where the BJP leader interacted with people while sipping tea as part of the Lok Sabha election campaign.
The programme was a brainchild of Citizens for Accountable Governance led by Prashant Kishor and the first of hundreds of similar events across India – sometimes conducted virtually. Chai pe Charcha was also supposed to highlight Modi’s humble beginnings as a tea-seller.
After the Chai Pe Charcha session, the joint became popular among local residents as the NaMo tea stall. But the huge rush of customers might have brought about its downfall.
Municipal authorities said the outlet was illegal as it did not have a “building-use” permission. “For four years, it was functioning without the necessary building use permission,’’ said the official.