BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi addresses around 2.5 lakh people during his Vijay Sankalp Rally in Dhurwa, Ranchi, on Sunday. Picture by Prashant Mitra
Ranchi, Dec. 29: This is not the prosperous young India that orders NaMo kurtas online. This is India Underbelly, which fights for NaMo Aahar food packets — four-five puris and a dry aloo sabzi.
Droupadi Devi (65) from Godda didn’t know who Narendra Modi was or what Vijay Sankalp Rally was all about, but the elderly woman braved cold and a long overnight journey to visit Ranchi for the first time in her life for the novelty of the trip and free food.
So did 50-year-old Dinesh Sah from Sahebganj. “Jo pet bhar khana dega usi ko vote denge (We will vote those who can feed us),” Sah said flatly, looking visibly irked as he sat outside Hatia station after not getting any food packet.
He was among the unlucky ones who did not manage to wrest a food packet from any of the impromptu distribution points outside Hatia station, manned by 400 BJP party workers in charge of welcoming thousands from the hinterland on the five dedicated special trains since morning.
Devi, jostling her way nimbly for a person her age, wrangled a food packet. It was plain brown in colour, a picture of Narendra Modi and NaMo Aahar printed in red. Devi opened her packet, smiling broadly to see the puri-sabzi inside.
Godda villagers enjoy the free food outside Hatia station in Ranchi on Sunday. Picture by Hardeep Singh
“Bahut jor bhook lagiche. Train chaar ghaante late che (Train was four hours late and I was very hungry),” Devi, who boarded the Pirpanti-Hatia special train, a 16-hour journey from Godda, said in her dialect.
Is she a Narendra Modi supporter? The tribal woman looked blankly.
“Ay babu rajdhani dekha chaithe aur khana bhi mili boli netalog. (I wanted to see the capital and I was told by the leaders I’d get food too),” Devi said.
Around 2.5 lakh people gathered at Dhurwa grounds to hear out Modi, a historic number for the 13-year-old state. Of them, some 23,000 came via trains originating from Pirpainti (Bihar-Jharkhand border, Sahebgunj), Nagar Uttari (Garhwa), Deoghar, Chakulia (East Singhbhum) and Noamundi (West Singhbhum) — some of the most underdeveloped, in the constant umbra of Centre and state welfare schemes.
ALPHA AFTERNOON, ALPHABETICALLY
A to Z of Narendra Modi’s visit
A for Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s “vision”, “akashvani” and Ahmedabad
B for Beeline of NaMo supporters from Ramgarh to Ranchi at 9am on Sunday that choked NH-33
C for Congress leader Subodh Kant Sahay, who came down heavily on Modi and other BJP leaders. “When they criticised Jharkhand for being underdeveloped due to Congress, they forgot it was their own party that ruled the state more than anyone else,” Sahay thundered
D for Delhi government, which Modi said was paralysed
E for Entertainment in the form of NaMo merchandise — masks, T-shirts, et al
H for Headcount. Around 2.5 lakh people attended the rally
J for journalist who asked the crowd to name the state where Modi was CM; the audience couldn’t
K for Kishorlal Chowk, Ranchi, where women and girls thronged Devi Mandir, wearing saffron vermilion, dupattas and marigold garlands in preparation for the rally
L for Lok Sabha elections, in which Modi wants Jharkhand’s 14 seats to go to BJP
M and N for what else, NaMo
P for 1,400 Priests of Durga Mandir, Kanke Road, who chanted shlokas for Modi’s safety and that of his supporters
R for RIMS, Ranchi, where Chatra-based BJP worker Pappu Pandey died. Pandey and six others met with a road accident on Sunday morning while they were coming to Ranchi to attend the rally
S for Stage, modelled on the Indian Parliament
T for Thanks, which Modi showered on the audience while sipping water
U for Uttarakhand, which Modi called Badrinath by mistake, laughing at himself as he corrected the slip of tongue
Z for Z-level security, worth the sleepless nights