Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Mumbai rally on Saturday was expected to put an end to the cold war between the state and city units of the BJP, but it ended up giving the former ammunition against the latter.
BJP supporters at Narendra Modi’s rally at Mahalaxmi Racecourse on Saturday. Pic/Sayed Sameer Abedi
The empty chairs during Modi’s rally at Mahalaxmi racecourse gave the state BJP the perfect opportunity to lash out at the Mumbai unit, terming the “low” turnout an embarrassment for the party, especially since the same venue was jam packed during Shiv Sena’s rally a week before Modi’s.
A senior state BJP leader claimed that after Sena’s rally on September 27, it had taken people more than an hour to reach Mahalaxmi station from the racecourse because of the heavy traffic and the large number of people, but after Modi’s rally, the roads were completely empty and the distance could be covered in 10 minutes.
“The empty chairs were there for all to see and they proved that the city unit didn’t work hard enough to get a crowd for the rally. Leaders from the city unit also had their own people on the dais but important state leaders were kept away from the stage.
The rally was mismanaged and they forgot to even announce the names of the candidates on stage. In contrast, the rally venues in Beed and Aurangabad were fully packed as the state unit had organised them,” said the leader.
BJP Mumbai’s Chief Spokesperson Niranjan Shetty, however said, “The allegations that the rally was mismanaged and chairs were empty are baseless. The venue was full of people who had come to listen to our leaders and PM Modi.”
While talks of the low turnout seems to have made the Sena happy, the BJP has started working to get a bigger crowd for Modi’s next rally in Mumbai, scheduled for October 9.
Won’t criticise Sena: Modi
At a rally in Sangli yesterday, PM Modi announced that he would refrain from saying things against the Shiv Sena as he respects the late Bal Thackeray. This was in contrast to BJP state chief Devendra Fadnavis’ earlier statement on the Sena that some people worship Shivaji and then get into extortion. To this, Uddhav had asked whether the BJP had been a partner in the ‘extortion’ for 25 years.