New Delhi/Nagpur: He is the heaviest artillery in Bharatiya Janata Party’s arsenal and has been leading from the front for almost two years. The man entrusted with the top most political job in the country has also taken the responsibility of pushing his party ahead of its rivals in state elections.
But the rally addressed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi at Rohini in North Delhi on Tuesday was not in keeping with the massive gatherings that he is used to during election campaigns. At Rohini’s Japanese Park there were about 12,000 people who had come to see and hear Modi.
A Delhi Police officer at the venue said the crowd was not big when compared to rallies during the 2014 Lok Sabha election. With the rally catering to North and North West constituencies of Delhi, a much bigger turnout was expected. Unlike his other rallies there were hardly any queues at the metal detectors.
Before Modi reached the venue in an Indian Air Force helicopter, several BJP leaders including its Delhi CM candidate Kiran Bedi had addressed the rally but received only lukewarn response. In fact as Modi’s helicopter reached near the venue, Bedi realising that people had gathered to hear the Prime Minister chanted ‘Modi, Modi’.
When Modi landed hundreds of people rushed towards the helicopter forcing the Border Security Force and Delhi Police personnel to form a protective ring to prevent the crowd from reaching anywhere near the flying machines.
The loudest roars were reserved for Modi and the crowd lapped up his every word as he targeted his rivals.
But not all were BJP supporters. A group of rickshaw pullers said they had come to see Modi but their vote would be for the Arvind Kejriwal-led Aam Aadmi Party (AAP).
While presence of supporters of rivals parties is not a big issue, what would worry the BJP is the not-so-impressive turnout. The party’s problem is compounded as Bedi is not a very impressive speaker and her entry into the party just a few days ago and projection as CM candidate has riled many old timers.
The poor response Bedi received from the crowd during the rally reinforced the notion that she is not the leader who can bring BJP to power in Delhi. If the party is to emerge as the winner, then a lot still needs to be done.
With Kejriwal and AAP leaders not addressing big rallies and instead concentrating on door-to-door campaign, street corner meetings and padyatras which are getting good response, the BJP will have to work extra hard in the last two days of electioneering before Delhi comes out to vote on February 7.