Narendra Modi’s rally yesterday turned out to be a merry trip to Mumbai for a group of villagers who had been brought in to fill up the audience. The much-publicised rally by BJP’s prime ministerial candidate at MMRDA grounds, Bandra-Kurla Complex (BKC) was attended by about 3 lakh people. The party had already pulled out all the stops to make sure attendance was in huge numbers.
One of these steps was to pay villagers to come to Mumbai and make sure the venue was packed. The men were lured to Mumbai with a promise of a sum of Rs 600, apart from travel expenses to and from Mumbai. The group arrived at the venue in the morning yesterday, but had to wait outside, as there was already a huge crowd occupying the ground. They decided to make use of the free time and promptly went to sleep on the footpath outside MMRDA grounds.
“We are a group of around 150 people from Yavatmal. A BJP party leader in our hometown approached us some 15 days back and called us to attend the rally. They said they would provide travel expenses to the ground and back. Besides this, we have been given Rs 600,” said 36-year-old Raju Ghadge. Another person from Yavatmal said, “We are very poor and money is important to us. These Rs 600 will come in handy.” Several such groups had arrived from interior parts of Maharashtra and were found outside the venue, which had multiple layers of security, while Modi was speaking inside.
Anil Shinde, another resident from Yavatmal, said, “We are carrying bags full of clothes. There was a large crowd during the entry time and going inside is very difficult. By the time our bags are checked by the security, Modi will have finished speaking.” The groups of people from Yavatmal got down at Lokmanya Tilak Terminus on Sunday morning and made the return journey from the same station in the night yesterday. Bus services to the ground were provided free of cost.
The groups were seen enjoying a nap under the trees in the cool weather that the city is currently enjoying, and generally chatting with each other. They then decided to take a tour of the huge corporate parks in BKC and other landmarks in the city. Some paid a visit to late Shiv Sena supremo Bal Thackeray’s residence at Kalanagar.
A Yavatmal resident said, “In the afternoon, we went to Balasaheb’s bungalow. We saw a lot of security cover there. We then saw the Mithi River and roamed around the whole area. We saw the big offices around BKC.” Another one was enthralled, “This is the first time that I’m in the city of Mumbai. We don’t have such high-rise buildings and structures in Rajapur, our village.”