BJP 'renames' MMRDA grounds for Narendra Modi rally

Where there is Modi, there is controversy. And the BJP stirred up another one when they christened the MMRDA grounds at Bandra-Kurla Complex with a new name Pandit Deendayal Upadhyaya Maidan for the rally by their candidate for the prime Minister’s chair, and current Gujarat CM Narendra Modi.

BJP’s prime ministerial candidate, Gujarat CM Narendra Modi held his 'Maha Garjana Rally' at the MMRDA grounds in BKC yesterday. While police say 3 lakh people were in attendance, BJP claims there were 8 lakh attendees. Pic/Sayed Sameer Abedi

This was Narendra Modi’s first official visit to the city, while campaigning for the 2014 elections. Supporters and attendees for the rally called ‘Mahagarjana Rally were able to see posters and banners near the venue showing them the way towards ‘Pandit Deendayal Upadhyaya Maidan’, named after the BJP patriarch.

A banner showing the way to ‘Deendayal Upadhyaya Maidan’ for Modi’s rally yesterday. Pic/Nimesh Dave

Pandit Deendayal Upadhyaya was a philosopher, sociologist and economist. He is the founder of Bharatiya Jan Sangh, which later developed into the Bharatiya Janata Party and was considered a learned right-wing ideologue for an alternate governance system. Said Niranjan Shetty, BJP spokesperson, “If Bandra-Worli Sea Link can be named after Rajiv Gandhi, why can’t we name MMRDA grounds after Pandit Deendayalji, an intellectual and a person who died for the nation?” 

A BJP supporter shows his love for the party at the rally yesterday with a tattooed lotus on his head

According to insiders, they would prefer if the ground had the same name. Dilip Patel, chairman of the Deendayal Upadhyaya Trust and the group leader of BJP in the BMC, said, “We will welcome any such proposal on naming MMRDA grounds after Upadhyayaji.”

At the rally, the party claimed that the crowd was nowhere less than 8 lakh, while police maintained that the numbers were around three lakh. State BJP president Devendra Fadnavis said, “The rally was a huge success. My estimate of the crowd is 8 lakh. I may be biased, but we saw a huge gathering.”

When asked about the naming of the ground, Fadnavis told this correspondent, “It’s a normal procedure, where we name the grounds after big leaders of our party. It was only for today.” Fadnavis added that they hadn’t thought about whom the ground would be named after, should they come to power, and that they had no such plan as yet.

The party also handed over a cheque of Rs 25 crore collected from party workers to Rajnath Singh, BJP president, to aid for campaigning in the upcoming elections. The rally began at 12 pm and was concluded by 3 in the afternoon. When asked about the issue, an MMRDA spokesperson said, “The ground is known as MMRDA ground in BKC’s G block. That is its identity.”

What modi said
Narendra Modi started his speech with a few lines in Marathi and then quickly switched to Hindi. While most issues he covered had already been spoken about in his previous speeches, Modi coined a new mantra for the BJP campaign: ‘Vote for India’. He asked people to vote for the country’s betterment.

Praises Mumbai, taunts Maharashtra
Professing his love for the city, Modi said, “Mumbai is a second home for Gujaratis. The way Mumbai treats Gujarati (language), it appears as if Mumbai is the maika for a Gujarati.” However, he adopted a different tone when it came to the state. “Maharashtra is our big brother. When Gujarat got divided from Maharashtra, the biggest question was how we would develop Gujarat, as we had no water, and a desert.

Today, Gujarat is a developed state. We abolished octroi in Gujarat. But, Maharashtra, under the guise of removal of octroi, implemented LBT. This is nothing but Loot Baantne ki Technique (LBT). Our checkposts have earned Rs 1,470 crore in the last ten years, but Maharashtra has only earned Rs 437 crore. The toll rates at both checkposts are the same. Why is there a difference? The Congress government must answer this.”

Congress-free India
Modi blamed Congress for the country’s downfall: “During the freedom struggle, it was at August Kranti Maidan that the Quit India movement started, due to which the British had to leave India. The same Mumbai soil will have to raise the slogan ‘Congress-free India’. Congress is into vote-bank politics and hence, keeps on dividing the society. Its policy has been ‘divide and rule’. Till the time we don’t move away from vote-bank politics and talk about development, the country won’t progress.”

Dig at Rahul Gandhi and Adarsh
While taking a dig at Rahul Gandhi, he said, “I heard a leader from Congress talking about corruption. On the one hand, the Maharashtra government is busy saving Congress leaders involved in the Adarsh scam, and on the other hand, its own leader in Delhi is talking about corruption.” 

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