On Sunday, as BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi addressed his first grand rally in Mumbai — claimed to be the largest in the recent political history of the state by BJP — a cross section of people gathered in the city to hear him.
From drought-affected farmers to city youth and groups of Muslims to tea vendors along with Modi’s traditional supporters — traders, businessmen and Gujarathis in the city — were assembled at the BKC ground.
While the police gave a rough estimate of the audience number to be in the range of about 300,000 people, the BJP claimed that over 500,000 people had turned up for the event.
“Muslims in Gujarat have benefited a lot under Modi and hence we need him. I wanted to hear his vision for us,” said Farid Batatawalla, president of Muslim Front Servant of Sufisium who hails from Kutch. Similar was the view of Jogeshwari based businessman Furqan Quereshi saying that nation needed a strong leader to control inflation.
For Tukaram Kishan Tochane, who arrived after a gruelling 12 hours journey from his native Buldhana, Modi promises a relief to the farming community. “We have seen thousands of farmers commit suicide in Maharashtra. We are tired of this Congress government which is not doing anything to mitigate our problems,” said Tochane.
Women also formed a sizable portion of the rally and there were a lot of students who turned up too.
However, the Congress was quick to dismiss the hype with Congress spokesperson Ratnakar Mahajan saying, “The crowd might have been large but where did it come from? The majority of the crowd was got by BJP from Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan for the rally. In Maharashtra, his appeal is limited and without getting trains from outside, the rally wouldn’t have filled up.’’