rediff.com

NewsApp (Free)

Read news as it happens
Download NewsApp

Available on  

Rediff News  All News 
Rediff.com  » News » Modi v Rahul: The big match ahead of the final showdown

Modi v Rahul: The big match ahead of the final showdown

April 22, 2014 16:23 IST

Modi vs Rahul: The big match ahead of the final showdown

     Next

Next
Patrick Ward in Mumbai

The two central characters of the blockbuster 2014 elections -- Rahul Gandhi and Narendra Modi -- had a virtual face-off days before Mumbai goes for the polls. Amid the blitzkrieg of charges and promises, Patrick Ward tries to gauge the mood of the common Mumbaikar.

The big match took place over two hot, dusty evenings in Mumbai’s MMRDA ground in suburban Bandra Kurla Complex. The match was originally billed as being Sonia Gandhi, representing the incumbent Congress, versus Narendra Modi, the resurgent upstart whose bombastic speeches are taking the country (or at least part of it) by storm.

Special Coverage: Election 2014

A few substitutions later, and it was eventually Sonia's son Rahul Gandhi who wore the Congress colours, while Modi formed a tag team with ally and Shiv Seva president Uddhav Thackeray.

Tens of thousands of people attended both -- and it was difficult to discern which side won on numbers. Either way, it would have been a good night for taxi and auto drivers, as crowds swarmed in from around the state to support their man.

Please click NEXT to read further…

This coverage is part of Project India, a journalism initiative organised by Bournemouth University, the UK, and supported by Rediff.com.


Image: A combination photo shows Rahul Gandhi and Narendra Modi addressing rallies at Mumbai's MMRDA grounds
Photographs: Sahil Salve

     Next

'Rahul had the edge in terms of numbers'

Prev     Next
Prev

Next

The Mumbai police, however, said that it was actually Rahul Gandhi who gained the edge, bringing what they say were around 50,000 supporters with “just” 40,000 for the BJP and allies.

The crowds at the Congress rally seemed younger and more energetic as they stood on the road waiting to enter the rally. People wore the party colours as they swarmed towards the security gates at the entrance to the main event.

Their concerns were widely shared -- Modi was a “fascist” without an economic plan, and relied on big business donations to spread his propaganda. But could the Congress win? “Let us hope so, because Modi's propaganda machine is strong,” said Deepak, an older Congress supporter from Mumbai.

Please click NEXT to read further…

 


Image: Congress supporters cheer for Rahul Gandhi during his rally in Mumbai on Sunday
Photographs: Patrick Ward/Rediff.com

Prev     Next

Rahul's attack against 'divisive' Modi wows supporters

Prev     Next
Prev

Next

Sonia Gandhi had pulled out of the first rally at the last minute, citing ill health. But this didn’t seem to dampen spirits too much.

People liked Rahul’s more combative speech, as he took on Modi’s “divisive” politics and boasted of how many Maharashtra residents the UPA had pulled out of poverty.

As his speech drew to a close, dozens of his supporters crammed their way into the hitherto tightly controlled press area, pushing themselves to the fence to shake his hand.

Please click NEXT to read further…


Image: Rahul Gandhi with Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde and Maharashtra CM Prithviraj Chavan at the Mumbai rally on Sunday
Photographs: Sahil Salve

Prev     Next

The Shiv Sena factor in Modi's rally

Prev     Next
Prev

Next

Modi’s rally the following day did seem busier, but the crowds outside were more organised as they shuffled their way through the metal detectors into the audience area.

There was less chanting, and fewer people had made the effort to decorate themselves with their party colours than the previous day.

But it seemed to be more politically plural -- among the BJP members were significant numbers wearing Shiv Sena badges and Republican Party of India-Athavale sashes.

Orange and white cut-out masks of Modi were worn by many, of various political backgrounds.

Please click NEXT to read further…


Image: Shiv Sainiks and Modi backers enter the rally venue on Monday
Photographs: Patrick Ward/Rediff.com

Prev     Next

'I have come here to see Modi and to tell Muslims what he plans to do'

Prev     Next
Prev

Next

Businessman Deepak Desai said Modi was a man with a “vision”, who stuck to his plans “right or wrong”.

“Modi put Gujarat on the world map,” he said. “Things happened in the past with the riots. But to go ahead you have to keep going forward.” He added that there were many Muslims in the BJP as well.

There was at least one Muslim at the rally. But ‘Sameer’ (name changed), a young man from Mumbai, said he was a Congress supporter.

“Modi had bad words for Muslims,” he said in a hushed voice. “I have come here to see him and to tell Muslims what he plans to do.”

One group of teenagers were happy to talk of their support for Modi. Why did they support him? “We just go with the flow,” said one of them, before an older man, who seemed to be the head of their delegation, pushed in front of him to explain Modi’s appeal -- Gujarat, strength, a bright future.

Modi’s speech itself seemed to get a better reaction from the crowd than his rival’s. There were bouts of applause and standing ovations, and pockets of chanting intermittently erupted across the area.

Please click NEXT to read further…


Image: Narendra Modi, Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray, BJP leader Gopinath Munde and RPI chief Ramdas Athawale at the rally on Monday
Photographs: Sahil Salve

Prev     Next

The dust will settle

Prev     More
Prev

More

His speech was far longer, too, lasting nearly an hour compared to Rahul’s 35 minutes. He wanted India to match South Korea’s standing in the world, he said, and accused his opponent of “poverty tourism” as he visited the houses of the poor during the campaign.

Several hundred of those gathering were eager to leave by this point, and started to make their way back out of the enclosure. Others weren’t so happy about that, and cajoled them, with some even blocking their paths.

As for who won -- the crowds seemed relatively evenly matched, and while Rahul was in good form he didn’t seem to be able to compete with the bruising words of Modi, whose crowd may have had a more conservative feel about them, but their enthusiasm was more widespread.

As the masses made their ways home -- on what could be considered, if nothing else, several good nights for taxi drivers -- rising clouds of dust spread out of the arena and into the Bandra streets. It will settle after Thursday, when Mumbai goes to the polls.

 


Image: Supporters of Narendra Modi cheer for their leader ahead of his rally on Monday
Photographs: Patrick Ward/Rediff.com

Prev     More