Saturday, April 19, 2014

The Modi rally that did not tell the Modi story

Kanpur: Narendra Modi’s rally which was to be held on Friday in Kanpur had to be shifted to the outskirts because there was a Akhilesh Yadav rally nearby and the district magistrate said that there should be at least 5 km distance between the two. So BJP’s Modi rally was held at Koyla Nagar on the outskirts of the city.
It was a big ground and the BJP organiser said that the crowd mobilised was 10,000 but it is going to go up to 20,000. This was an hour before Modi’s arrival by helicopter. Hundreds of people were brought in buses and there were plenty of others who came on their own. The seating arrangements were for about a thousand and another two thousand stood on the other side.
It was a windy forenoon and one of the party speakers said from the hurriedly erected podium that because of the thunderstorm Modi’s arrival was delayed. It appeared that the podium would not withstand the winds. But it survived. Senior party leader and party’s Kanpur candidate Murli Manohar Joshi arrived around noon. There was chair in the middle with a throne-like long back and it was meant for Modi. Others sat on less elevated chairs, including Joshi. When Joshi was called upon to speak he talked of the scandals – 2G, coal allocation – and asked people not to vote for the man – his Congress opponent and coal minister Prakash Jaiswal – because of Rs 1.86 lakh crore coal scandal. The crowd shouted, “Har Har Modi”.
Modi arrived after 1 pm to wild cheers from the people in the stands, especially the youngsters in the front row who would become vocal as the cameras – still as well as TV – turned on them. When Modi came he did not sit on the assigned throne-like chair and made Joshi sit on it, and he sat next to Joshi. He rose to speak and said that in this election, not only the dates were announced but the result was also announced. “The Congress is not coming back,” he announced. The crowd was shouting away, “PM kaisa ho Modi jaisa ho”. He told the audience that they should go out and vote and give the BJP a comfortable majority with more than 300 seats so that there will be a “mazboot (strong)” government. He also implied a stable government.
Even as he was speaking the crowd melted away, with many of them moving out of the venue. They were aware that it was going to be a short speech and that Modi has to go on to his next election meeting. This was no reflection that on either Modi’s rhetoric or popularity. People were practical. They wanted to avoid the traffic jam that would prevent them from getting back to wherever they came from.
A political observer said that Joshi might just get past Jaiswal by a small margin because of the Modi factor. He pointed out that the Kanpur BJP unit was quite unhappy with Joshi being given the teicket from the city, especially by Mahana, who had lost the 2009 election with a small margin and who was hoping to win this time because of the Modi wave. There is simmering discontent even now in the local BJP unit.
Jaiswal had won the 2004 and 2009 elections by small margins. And his defeat this time should not come as a surprise. He has done little for the development of Kanpur during his tenure. It is however acknowledged that he is accessible to people and that endears him to the people. But this might not be sufficient to give him victory the third time.

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