Bangalore, November 18: Given that over a lakh turned up to listen to Gujarat Chief Minister and Bharatiya Janata Party’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi, it seemed that all roads led to Palace Grounds here on Sunday.
Thousands of people donning the saffron shawl and sporting vermillion on their foreheads raised slogans such as ‘Vande Mataram’ and ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’.
But the presence of some people in the rally raised a lot of eyebrows. Take for instance Meenakshi Bharat of the Lok Satta Party, who had contested for the Malleswaram Assembly seat on Lok Satta party ticket. To a query on her presence in the BJP event, she told The Hindu, “Mr. Modi is the future of the country. Since Lok Satta is not fielding a prime ministerial candidate, I am supporting Mr. Modi.”
“I am a fan of performance. Mr. Modi is a performer.” Asked if her party, which does not have an official understanding with the BJP, will take kindly to her presence at the rally, she changed tack and said: “Whether it’s a Congress or BJP rally, I need to come and find out what they’re doing.”
However, her party colleagues were not impressed. Lok Satta Party spokesperson Anand Yadwad said: “We will discuss this in the working committee meeting of the party. Her continuance in the party will also be seriously reconsidered. Ms. Meenakshi Bharat’s views [on Mr. Modi] are purely personal and our party does not share her views.”
Yet another person whose presence in the rally surprised many was that of B.J. Puttaswamy whom the BJP axed last year. He later joined the Karnataka Janata Paksha led by the former Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa.
Seated in the VIP section, Mr. Puttaswamy seemed visibly pleased when senior party leader and the former Higher Education Minister Aravind Limbavalli made a positive mention of Mr. Yeddyurappa’s tenure as the Chief Minister.
Similarly, the presence of Basavanagouda Patil Yatnal also generated interest. Mr. Yatnal, who was with the BJP until 2010 and then joined the JD(S), was spotted at Mr. Modi’s venue fraternising with several BJP leaders.
He has been openly voicing his dissent against the senior JD(S) leaders for some time now and his attending the BJP event gave further wind to the theory that he might join the saffron party.
Caps and burkhas
The trend of Muslims wearing namaz caps and burkhas attending Mr. Modi’s rallies continued here too. Many small groups of people dressed in this fashion were seen being escorted into the venue by party volunteers. In many cases, party volunteers prevented them from speaking to presspersons.
Mubarak (45) a mechanic from Jalahalli, one of the few who spoke to presspersons, said, “There is a lot of negative propaganda against Mr. Narendra Modi. The lives of people like us haven’t changed much in the years during the term of the secular government.” Ashfaq (22), also a mechanic, said, “I like the way he [Mr. Modi] speaks. His dialogue delivery is superb.”