A few days back when Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi was sweeping away the crowd in his rallies, the ruling BJP had confidently boasted that this popularity will last only till Modi does not visit Gujarat. The BJP had claimed that once their party’s star campaigner, Prime Minister Narendra Modi reaches his hometown to address rallies, all the popularity and response that Rahul is getting will be in thick clouds. But the Modi rallies seems to be telling a different story.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi the national face of the BJP and the party’s star campaigner in Gujarat election campaigning, on 6 Dec held a couple of rallies in the poll-bound Gujarat. As per the reports of the media and the people present to listen to Modi, there was hardly any crowd. When the Prime Minister reached to Dhandhuka, already two hours late, even then there were not many people present there except for the media persons and the BJP workers.
One of the reporters stated that when he reached the grounds at 10:30 the scheduled time for the rally, the location was barren except for the news media along with BJP workers and organisers. He further added that “I was told by one of the organisers that the PM will arrive post 11 am. And I could clearly see why. The crowd slowly started entering the rally grounds from the back. Most of them were villagers from surrounding areas of Dhandhuka taluka, who had traveled 15-20 km to see Modi for the very first time in their vicinity.”
The reason for the delay in the rally was probably the less crowd, and the party expected that more people will flow in at around 11 am. Though some more people joined in to listen to the Prime Minister, the empty chairs outnumbered the people. Just after 12 pm, Narendra Modi’s helicopter arrived at the location and the Prime Minister began his speech 20 mins later.
What was more surprising that just 15-20 mins after Modi began addressing the rally, many got up to leave and go back. “It started out as a procession as those who sat at the front of the rally were the first to walk out,” the reporters present they said. When the media people asked the leaving crowd, their reason to leave early as the speech was still not completed, they cited different reasons, but it could be clearly seen that the people were no longer interested in hearing to Modi.
However, the Modi supporters had excuse galore to leave early, some said that they had only come to see Modi speak and they thought that it was over so they were leaving. Some cited the rising traffic as the reason that they had to get back home and the traffic will increase later so they were leaving early. A few also said that they had traveled a long way and it would take them 2 hours to get back home, so they were leaving. While some also gave the chilly weather as the reason to leave early.
The local cops present at the rally also said that even they have never seen people walk out of Modi rallies in such high numbers.
Whatsoever may be the reasons for the people to leave early, but the vacant chairs at the Modi rally is a rare spectacle and is surely raising the eyebrows of many, as to whether the empty chairs, sign of a mood shift on Modi’s home turf?
Laljibhai Koli Patel is the sitting MLA from Dhandhuka constituency, but he has not been given the ticket from his constituency instead the ticket went to Kalubhai Dabhi. Ahead of Modi’s speech, Laljibhai Koli Patel, Kalubhai Dabhi, state Education Minister Bhupindersinh Chudasma and state BJP president Jitu Vaghani addressed the rally.