TT Epaper
The Telegraph
 
CIMA Gallary

Rs 5 fee for Modi darshan in Hyderabad

Hyderabad, July 15: Narendra Modi will address next month a youth convention here with an entry fee of Rs 5, the American-style fund-raiser marking a rare instance of tickets being sold for a BJP leader’s meeting.

Andhra party chief G. Kishan Reddy said the money would be donated for relief in flood-ravaged Uttarakhand. “The state unit might also contribute a sum in addition to the collections for the youth meeting.”

Registrations for the August 11 event have started and up to Rs 5 lakh could be mopped up, other leaders said.

Party sources claimed the suggestion to use Modi’s public meetings to raise funds for Uttarakhand had come from the Gujarat chief minister’s office in Ahmedabad.

The fund-collection drive comes less than a month after a controversy over claims — attributed to Modi’s propaganda team — that he had helped send home over 15,000 Gujarat residents from Uttarakhand during his two-day trip to the hill state.

The convention plan also coincides with a raging controversy over Modi’s recent “kutte ka bachcha” remarks in the context of the Gujarat riots. Minority groups in Hyderabad have slammed the statement, some have announced protests when he arrives in the city for the youth meet and one leader claimed he had filed a complaint accusing him of stoking religious enmity.

The Lal Bahadur Shastri stadium, the planned venue of the Yuva Sammelan, has a capacity of 50,000 but party rally managers claimed they could squeeze in around a lakh participants. That could mean collections of up to Rs 5 lakh.

“We started registrations a week ago and have already enrolled over 35,000,” said state BJP spokesperson and secretary N.V. V. S. Prabhakar.

City old-timers couldn’t recall the last time a fee was charged for BJP meetings, not even for events addressed by veterans like L.K. Advani.

“The fund-raising is meant to showcase our party’s icon in a novel manner and to support relief work at Char Dham, which is also very dear to us,” said former minister and BJP vice-president Bandaru Dattatreya. Char Dham refers to Badrinath, Kedarnath, Gangotri and Yamunotri.

The convention is expected to be a solo show where Modi — who has been touring campuses across the country — will explain the party’s youth policy, said Kishan Reddy, the president of the state unit.

This has raised the possibility that national leaders from Andhra, like M. Venkaiah Naidu and Dattatreya, may not attend. The event was planned for July 27 but put off because panchayat polls will be held in Andhra from July 23 to 31.

But instead of red carpet, Modi may have to reckon with black flags once he lands. Minority groups, angered by his recent remarks on the riots, said they would hold demonstrations at the airport and the convention venue.

“Modi should be ashamed,” said Ghulam Rabbani, an advocate who claimed he had lodged a police complaint against Modi over the “kutte ka bachcha” statement.

But deputy commissioner of police (south zone) Tarun Joshi said a case had not been registered yet and his department was seeking legal opinion.

Rabbani has sought Modi’s immediate arrest, terming his statements as “highly provocative and malicious against Muslims with an intention to promote enmity between Muslims and Hindus”.