UP Elections 2017: The Experience Of A PM Narendra Modi Rally For A Woman, A Student, Senior Citizens
BARABANKI: At 1 pm, Pradum Vishwakarma, a 22-year-old college student in Uttar Pradesh, is dressed like he’s going to class – a white shirt and trousers. Excerpt there’s a plastic lotus, pinned to his shirt.
Mr Vishwakarma is in a green, rickety bus that is taking 30 people from his village in Barabanki to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s rally, a one-hour drive away.
He is a volunteer with the Rashtryia Swayamsewak Sangh or RSS, which is the ideological mentor of Mr Modi’s party, the BJP. He was tasked to deliver at least 20 people from his village for today’s rally. He has managed 30, and says in any case, the Prime Minister has already done enough to ensure a victory in the complex UP election.The best thing was note-bandi (demonetisation) and the people are very happy,” he says, before the bus came to a stop and he helped people off it, then disappearing into the crowd of thousands.
By 1:30 pm, 300 buses like the one used by Mr Vishwakarma have pulled in. The parking lot of the large space that’s meant to be converted into apartment blocks is full of hundreds of cars and taxis, hired by BJP workers, to bring in attendees for the PM’s speech.Suneeta Devi is not part of the organised crowd. The 40-year-old says she walked more than 10 km to listen to the PM in her best saree, red with gold embroidery. Her husband, a daily wager, is working in Delhi. She has left her children in the care of others at her village. “I like Modi, he gave me a cylinder. That’s why I like him,” she says, unwilling to share more about her political affiliation.
By 3:15 pm, when the PM’s helicopter flies in from Lucknow, accompanied by two others, Jia Lal and Hanumant have been waiting four hours to see him. Both are over 65, old friends from the same village, bussed in by BJP workers. Each has managed a chair, but towards the rear fringe of the sea of people. The PM is a distant speck. Hanumant strains his neck when Mr Modi speaks about healthcare, vowing that if elected, his party will add health centres across the state. “The rich can go to big hospitals in UP, but where do he poor go?” asks Mr Modi.
Hanumant says he wants to applaud, but is too upset. “I can’t see a thing… I should have seen him on TV,” he shouts to be heard.