NEW DELHI: The BJP’s East Delhi candidate Mahesh Girri takes on Congress leader Rahul Gandhi with humour and sarcasm. Girri’s supporters resort to high-pitched sloganeering and relentlessly invoke Narendra Modi, the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate.
In between, there is bursting of crackers. When smoke lifts somewhat, supporters dance to drum beats, amid showering of rose petals, sometimes mechanised.
Campaigning by the 39-year-old Art of Living guru is creating quite a buzz, a week before voting for seven Lok Sabha seats takes place in Delhi.
Standing in an open jeep, Girri, who joined the BJP recently, held a bunch of balloons and said, “Poor Rahul Gandhi.. he is yet to grow up. I’m presenting these for him to play”. On Wednesday, Girri campaigned in Ghondli, an urbanised village, and some other areas.
Traditionally, both Congress and BJP have represented East Delhi parliamentary constituency till Aam Aadmi Party changed equations in December 2013, winning 5 of the 10 assembly seats.
The AAP has fielded Mahatma Gandhi’s grandson Rajmohan Gandhi. Former Delhi chief minister Sheila Dikshit’s son Sandeep Dikshit has won this constituency in the last two elections.
While Dikshit is banking on “the works he has done”, Gandhi, though tagged outsider, may have some advantage because of AAP’s five MLAs.
But Girri, who is contesting his first elections, sounds confident. Taking the microphone, he said, “It’s a battle. AAP and Congress both want to ruin the country.
They would do anything to keep Modiji from coming to power. ‘Hum sar pe kafan baandh ke nikle hain. Inki chhaati pe chadh ke vikas kar ke dikhayenge’.”
On this, enthusiastic BJP workers got on to the jeep, garlanded him, fed him ‘laddoos’ and offered water. A native of Nasik, Girri is also banking on his support base in terms of Art of Living followers. He was involved in the Anna Hazare’s anti-corruption movement in 2010.
Because of narrow lanes ahead, littered with cowdung and garbage, Girri, clad in white kurta-pajama and wearing sports shoes, got down and walked as his supporters chanted: “Abki baar Modi sarkar; Kamal ka phool kabhi na bhool.” One party worker announced, “Narendra Modiji ne soch samajh ke Girri ji ko ticket diya hai. Girri ji is an honest and hard working person; just read his books.”
Towards the fag end, he also went to a temple for ‘darshan’. Small children followed him, shouting, “Lag gai muhar kamal pe”.