Prime Minister Narendra Modi was given numerous gifts during the five rallies that he attended during the first day of his whirlwind two-day election campaign tour of Assam. While only his security team would be able to give the exact count of how many phulam gamocha – handwoven towels with red flowers on both ends – he got, it was a wooden replica of an one-horned rhinoceros that touched his heart the most.
“Though the security people had fixed the number of persons who would felicitate him on the stage in Majuli, so many people finally felicitated him that we ultimately could not keep a count. If you take all the five rallies into account that he attended today, then he must have received at least 100 gamochas, probably signifying the number seats that the BJP-led alliance could win,” said BJP spokesman Rupam Goswami.
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During the the course of his whirlwind tour, PM Modi was given a huge bell-metal ‘sorai’ along with other gifts in the Tinsukia rally, then he was given a bell-metal ‘bota’ in Bihpuria. Meanwhile, Pitambardev Goswami, the satradhikar (pontiff) of Auni-ati satra – a 400-year old vaishnavite monastery of Majuli, sent him a special cane hand-fan, while satradhikar Janardan Goswami of Uttar Kamalabari satra satradhikar sent him a hand-woven chelleng (stole) made of paat silk.
“It was however a wooden rhino that he got in Bokakhat that touched him the most,” said senior AGP leader Alaka Sarma.
While Modi’s Bokakhat rally was primarily to support AGP president Atul Bora’s campaign, the latter gave him a wooden rhino, which he asked his security personnel to keep carefully, Sarma said.
“No doubt, as he delivered his lecture he expressed strong anguish over rhino-poaching in Kaziranga, and asked the people to press the right button on voting day to punish those who have been patronizing the poachers,” Sarma said.
The gifts he got in Majuli on the other hand also signified the tribal culture of the world’s largest inhabited river island that has been struggling to get a World Heritage tag of UNESCO for nearly two decades.
“The mibu galuk, a Mising tribal jacket, was designed by Jyotsna Sonowal, while the ribi gassing, the red Mising scarf, was woven by another village woman of Jengraimukh,” said local BJP leader and filmmaker Hem Chandra Doley.
In Majuli, the Samaguri Satra satradhikar Koshakanta Goswami on the other hand sent him a mask of Garuda, the vahana of Lord Vishnu.
The prime minister also got certain gifts that are replicas of the three partners of the BJP-led alliance. In Bihpuria, the local unit of Bodo People’s Front (BPF), an ally of the BJP, gave him a traditional plough that is also the symbol of the regional party. In Bokakhat, the local AGP unit gave him the replica of an elephant, the AGP’s symbol, while in Jorhat, the local BJP unit gave him a lotus made of bell-metal.
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