Responding to a report in The Indian Express Friday (Crowd only 50,000, Modi’s Kolkata rally ‘okay’: Varun), BJP leader Varun Gandhi tweeted: “Mischievous article in The Indian Express implying that I was trying to denigrate Modi ji and the historic Kolkata rally. Why would I denigrate a function that I myself organised? When asked whether the rally was okay, I replied it was absolutely okay. When asked about the crowd size, and whether it was more than 50 thousand, I replied it was certainly more but it is difficult to decipher the exact crowd at these mammoth rallies, hence I chose not to hazard a guess.”
Reporter Subrata Nagchoudhury replies: When I called Varun Gandhi on February 6 and asked him for his comments on the previous day’s Narendra Modi rally, he replied: “It was okay.”
Why just okay, why not excellent, I asked, given how the state BJP had reacted to the rally. Gandhi said: “Subrata, I have read your article today and what you have written is not true.”
When I asked him to explain, he said: “The crowd was not 200,000 as you had written. It would not have been more than 45,000 to 50,000 at the most.”
I told him that the 200,000-turnout in the report was based on visual estimates cross-checked with police assessments. The fact that Gandhi, a general secretary of the BJP in charge of West Bengal, feels that a Modi rally’s turnout was greatly exaggerated in the press is, indeed, newsworthy. That he sees this as “mischief” is his opinion.
The least number of women candidates have been fielded by the Congress which has given tickets to just five women contestants.