Abid Rashid, 25, came from Kupwara, and Ram Kumar, 48 from Ramban in Jammu region. Both wanted to see and listen to Narendra Modi addressing his first election rally in the Kashmir valley, though Abid has no clue what Modi’s party stands for.
Abid, a student, said he likes PM Modi’s vision for Kashmir. “If he provides us jobs and resolves our issues, what else do we need?” he said. His village head had advised him to come. “Six hundred people from Kupwara are here today. Many more are coming.”
Ram Kumar said around 300 people from his area were attending the rally. “I admire Modi and that is the only reason we have travelled all the way from Ramban,” he said.
People such as Adil and Ram Kumar from Kupwara and Jammu, non-locals working in Srinagar, and the city’s own residents made up the mixed crowd who turned up for the rally at the Sher-e-Kashmir Cricket Stadium.
Haseena Akhtar, a homemaker in Karan-Nagar area of Srinagar, says she came because she wanted to see what PM would say, so that she could decide if “BJP is the best party to vote for.”
“In the recent floods, our three-storey house was damaged and the government gave just Rs 3,800. It is an injustice to us. I came here today because I think Modiji is honest,” she said. “I want to hear the speech myself and decide if it is right to vote for the BJP.”
The crowd included 10 labourers from Bihar who work in Srinagar. There was also a group from Maharashtra. It included Ranjit Singh, a mason who wanted to hear Modi speak. “I like Modi so much I skipped work.”
When the Prime Minister completed his 30-minute speech, Jehangir Hassan, a businessman from Parimpora on the city’s outskirts said, “I have never voted in my life, but after listening to his speech, I now believe I should vote for BJP.”