For the first time, a Modi rally in Gujarat had an entry fee. The first Vijay Shankhnaad rally to mobilise the youth, held at the Sardar Patel stadium, where Modi took oath as CM for the third time in 2012, had an entry fee of Rs 10 per ticket.
It was an all-out Modi show, with M-O-D-I painted on the wall behind the stands swamped with people wearing NaMo-For-PM saffron caps, NaMo T-shirts and some shirtless youths sporting ‘Vote for Modi , Vote for India’ as body paint. Modi, who was at least two hours late, devoted most of his speech to reciting an unusually long patriotic poem, whose author he did not name.
Ahead of Modi’s arrival, nearly a dozen custom-made Modi songs blared from the speakers. The songs included “Modi Statue of Unity ko anthwa ajooba banayenge’ (Modi will make Statue of Unity the eighth wonder), ‘Aayi Modi Ki Sena, Tension mein Sonia’ (Modi’s entry has left Sonia Gandhi in tension) and ‘Modiji ki sena chali, Ramji Karenge Bhali’ (Here goes Modi’s army, Lord Ram will do the rest). But the one that took the cake was in a heavy American accent, picked from the Obama presidential campaign, that went, “Yes we can. Yes we do”.
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Photographs of senior party leaders from Pandit Deen Dayal Upadhyay, Shyama Prasad Mukherjee, Atal Bihari Vajpayee and L K Advani had to compete with a backdrop with various Modi slogans and ‘NaMo’ in Devanagri script. A square-shaped plank with a ‘BJP 272+’ cut-out rotated on the extreme right of the stage.
“It is for the first time that an entry fee has been charged in Gujarat. The huge turnout proves the enthusiasm of young BJP workers and Modi’s popularity,” said youth BJP president Pradeep Vaghela.
Some participants, however, denied having paid the fee. “I have come on my own. And there was no entry fee,” said Dipak Bishnoi, who hails from Jodhpur. He also claimed to have paid for his expenses to come to the rally. Local youngster, Ratan Singh, who works as a daily wager in Navrangpura, said, “I haven’t paid anything to get an entry.”
“More than 50,000 caps and an equal number of T shirts have been distributed,” said a senior BJP leader. Volunteers were seen distributing the merchandise at the entry gate.
In his speech, Modi accused the Congress of not fulfilling promises made to youth in its 2013-2014 budget.
“They (UPA) had set aide a fund of Rs 1,000 crore for the skill development training. They announced to train 10 lakh youths, but so far have trained only 18,352 youths,” said Modi addressing the nearly 60,000 strong audience.
“At this rate, the Congress will take 20 years to train 10 lakh youths,” he further added.
Speaking in Hindi, Modi once again evoked his modest background and alleged that the Congress see him as trouble. “For the first time in 60 years, somebody has challenged their sultanat (empire),” said Modi.
He added, “They search for an opportunity to hit Modi, eliminate Modi. But what can they do? They try to trap me through CBI or courts. They don’t know that we are here to serve Maa Bharti. If not in this life, we will serve Bharat Mata in next life. We have not left home for position and power. This is the reason why my every line hurts them.’’
He said, even before the polls, for the first time the people have taken their decision. It is not candidates but the people of this nation who are contesting, Modi said, evoking huge response from the crowds.