Gopal Maidan teems with supporters as Narendra Modi, the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate (below), delivers his 10-minute speech on Thursday. Pictures by Bhola Prasad and Animesh Sengupta
Narendra Modi thanked a crowd of 20,000 for braving near-40 temperatures on Thursday and went on to tug at steel city heartstrings by ruing its inability to become eastern India’s industrial hub due to faulty policies of the UPA government.
In a clear attempt to connect with Jamshedpur’s large army of industrial workers, Modi blamed the UPA’s lack of vision for preventing the city of over-100 years to bloom to full potential.
“Sau sal ka yeh shahar majdooron ke pasino se bani hain. Achhi sarkar hoti to yeh sheher kahan se kahan pauhunch jati (This 100-year-old city is built by the sweat and toil of workers. If there had been a good government, this city would have attained milestones),” he said, addressing a packed Gopal Maidan from a shamiana that had been “airconditioned” for him using 12 coolers.
Never short of effect, Modi went on to ridicule the Congress-led government’s policies in his 10-minute speech.
“We export wheat but import chapattis. We export iron ore but import steel.”
The crowd cheered to show its appreciation. At which point, he put forth a loaded question. “Has anything changed in the last decade under Madam Soniaji? Has there been employment opportunities? Has there been improvement in health sector?”
The crowd responded with a “no.”
The country, he added, had taken a decision to change the government. Therefore, he asked the people of Jamshedpur be a part of that decision.
Clad in a white churidar-kurta, Modi arrived in Jamshedpur by a special flight from Bagdogra. He landed at Sonari airport and reached the venue in a black SUV at 1.25pm.
He had a glass of water before climbing up the stairs to the dais. After receiving a few ceremonial bouquets from senior BJP leaders, Modi started off with a loud, “Bharat mata ki jai”.
However, he had to pause for a few seconds as a group of partymen had rushed on to the VVIP enclosure and media wing leading to a scuffle and some commotion.
Modi was clearly displeased. “These people should be ashamed of disturbing journalists. They should behave themselves. I am sorry for the chaos,” he said, and went on to thank the crowd for waiting for hours together under the hot sun.
“I urge all political pundits to see the ocean of people in Jamshedpur. You will know in which direction the wind is blowing! I want to thank the people for coming here despite such weather conditions,” he said.
Modi left the venue at 2pm and headed straight for Sonari Aerodrome from where he took off for Gaya in Bihar.
Thursday’s rally is likely to boost the prospects of BJP’s Bidyut Baran Mahto against a very popular sitting MP and JVM candidate Ajoy Kumar, who held a dharna at another part of the town for not being allowed to meet the BJP leader.
Apart from Mahto, others present at the rally included former chief minister Arjun Munda, MLAs Raghubar Das and Menka Sardar, Singhbhum nominee Laxman Gilua, ex-MLA Sarayu Roy, former state party president Dineshanand Goswami and spokesperson Amarpreet Singh Kale.