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BJP pulls out all stops for Narendra Modi's TN debut

Last updated on: September 27, 2013 19:50 IST

BJP pulls out all stops for Narendra Modi's TN debut

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A Ganesh Nadar's impressions of Narendra Modi’s huge rally in Tiruchirappalli

The Bharatiya Janata Party's youth conference in Tiruchirappalli, Tamil Nadu on Thursday was a huge success. The party's prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi came to the southern state for the first time since being anointed to lead the party in the next general election.

There were huge crowds to see the Gujarat chief minister. All the 85,000 chairs at the venue were full, there were nearly a lakh people standing and another 50,000 were sitting on the parapet of the highway outside. In all the BJP managed to bring 250,000 people to Tiruchi to hear Narendra Modi. Amazing because in Tamil Nadu they do not have a single MLA or MP and in the last Lok Sabha elections they got a little over 2 percent of the popular vote.

The sangh parivar’s famed organisation was there for all to see. Every participant had a Rs 10 pass or a VIP pass, which had been given to them at least three days in advance. Transport had been arranged from every district in Tamil Nadu. The attendees were well-fed too.

The police were out in strength too, some 5,000 personnel, who kept order quite well. From 6 am in the morning they did not allow a single flag bearing vehicle within 3 kms of the venue. They also ensured orderly parking of the hordes of vehicles carrying people to the venue.

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Image: Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi with BJP President Rajnath Singh
Photographs: A Ganesh Nadar

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BJP pulls out all stops for Narendra Modi's TN debut

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The ground is adjacent to the national highway connecting Tiruchinnapally to Chennai. It is a very important road and had to be kept clear at all times.

The cadre had to walk the last 3 km in the heat. BJP volunteers were distributing water packets to those on the road.

The cops did not allow anyone into the venue in the morning. Post lunch they started allowing them only if they had passes. The chairs filled up and the ground. Finally all that was left was the parapet alongside the national highway outside.

The crowd was in the hot sun from 1 pm to 6 pm. Even those on stage had no respite from the sun. The stage was made up like the Red Fort. Modi seems to be fascinated with this particular fort.

At 3 pm, local politicians started regaling the crowd with their speeches, the best part of which was that no one was allowed to speak beyond five minutes.

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Photographs: A Ganesh Nadar

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BJP pulls out all stops for Narendra Modi's TN debut

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There were huge banners of Narendra Modi, Rajnath Singh, Swami Vivekananda and Bharat Mata on her lion. Outside there was a banners which had Modi with Ambedkar and superstar Rajinikanth -- the BJP hadn’t missed a single trick.
Both Modi and BJP president Rajnath Singh spoke in Hindi. Rajnath spoke two lines in Tamil and Modi three.

Modi made an effort to connect with the people. He told them how much he loved the language. He reminded them that there were Tamils in Gujarat and Gujjus in Tamil Nadu.

"There is a mini Gujarat in Sowcarpet, Chennai and there is a mini Tamil Nadu in Gujarat called 'Mani Nagar' and I am the MLA from Mani Nagar. I was elected by Gujaratis and Tamils and won with a thumping majority".

He also said that Tamil Nadu and Gujarat were both coastal states and had a long history of trading by the sea routes. While Gujarati fishermen were arrested by Pakistan, Tamil Nadu fishermen were arrested by Sri Lankans.

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Photographs: A Ganesh Nadar

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BJP pulls out all stops for Narendra Modi's TN debut

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"Gujarat grows the most cotton in India and Tamil Nadu consumes the most cotton in India," he said.

The crowd frequently reacted vociferously to slogans by the BJP leaders. Obviously they had been well coached in the ways of the BJP. There was no hate Hindi attitude which is the favourite of the Dravidian parties.

Another new strategy by the BJP was they did not mention the Congress. All they said was, "In 1967, a national party was thrown out of Tamil Nadu and it can never come back. We are a national party and we are ready to rule Tamil Nadu. You have not done very well with regional parties".

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Photographs: A Ganesh Nadar

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BJP pulls out all stops for Narendra Modi's TN debut

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As far as the Congress goes, Modi attacked them as usual. He said the same negative things about them that he has been repeating in a dozen other states.

He also reiterated his opposition to the Aadhar card. He claimed that the Supreme Court was now asking exactly the same questions that he had asked the prime minster three years back.

His promise that he would stop Sri Lanka from attacking Tamil fishermen went down very well with the audience.

With food, travel and cash incentive, the BJP reportedly spent Rs 1,000 on each participant.

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Photographs: A Ganesh Nadar

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