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What made NaMo’s Delhi rally a roaring success

Author: Neena Rai
Publication: Niticentral.com
Date: October 5, 2013
URL: http://m.niticentral.com/2013/10/06/what-made-namos-delhi-rally-a-roaring-success-142200.html

Modi has done it again. Another massively successful rally, this time in the heart of India, New Delhi. I run short of adjectives to explain his super successful rallies that draw lakhs of people from far away villages and cities. Lets just call it Modi Magic because terming it hat-trick again and again just does not make sense, even though that’s what he does. He scores sixes every single time and he never misses, not even once.

Most of us watch these rallies on our television sets, within the confines and comforts of our homes. But for those who have had the opportunity to see Narendra Modi in person creating a frenzy amongst crowds with his powerful oratory skills, its a different experience altogether. It is mayhem and madness.

Mayhem because that’s what it feels like while the preparations for the rally are in full swing. Madness because everyone seems mad about Modi. I myself have been told I must be mad (being a woman) to wade through a crowd of lakhs (mostly men) within a confined space. This space, by the way, looks like an ocean of bobbing heads when viewed from the stage.

Behind this mayhem and madness is months of preparation and hard work. Most people involved in the ‘Dilli Badlo Rally’ had not had proper sleep or food for days. Be it the volunteers, the members of BJYM (Bhartiya Janata Yuva Morcha), members of BJP (Bhartiya Janta Party) and other associated organisations, everyone showed up for work every single day in the sweltering heat at the Japanese Park rally grounds.

The ground that looked level and clean was actually uneven and at places had waterlogging from rains. Soil was brought in to fill in these numerous water patches in huge trucks. Bamboo tents were erected and taken down, and then erected and shifted again because something or the other was not right, especially from the viewpoint of security. The structures that look small on the TV screen were actually huge and required a large number of men to get erected.

One of these structures was a hoarding that seemed ten times higher than the average building in Rohini. This bamboo structure had a massive poster of Narendra Modi which said: ‘Jeetengey Dilli Jeetengey Bharat – Narendra Modi Singh Garjna’ (We will win Delhi, Win India – Narendra Modi’s lion roar). Even though the terms make perfect sense in Hindi, the literal meaning in English is lost in translation. For those who do not understand Hindi, it translates vaguely into: Victory will be ours in New Delhi and all over India and Narendra Modi, dubbed as the Lion of the country, will roar. The rally was called ‘The Lion’s Roar Rally’ as well.

To hear the lion roar, people had come days in advance and camped on the rally grounds. They ate, slept, washed and lived there for a few days before the rally. Since the day the rally was announced, about a month ago, Vijay Goel (BJP’s Delhi president), with his team, was waking up at 4 am and going on rounds to various Constituencies of New Delhi doing ‘Prabaht Feri’, which is an ancient Hindu custom for relaying information in the mornings. This relaying of information is also an invitation to an event, and is done in a small procession accompanied by a beating of drums. Members of every Constituency were informed about Narendra Modi coming to New Delhi and were requested to hear the ‘Lion Roar’ for themselves.

While the invitees were excited to hear the lion roar, all was not well with the opposition and they stooped low enough to erect hoardings claiming all sorts of nasty things. One such silly hoarding said: “Here Comes the Braggart” in Hindi. These hoardings sprung mostly in north Delhi but the fan following of Narendra Modi was active in bringing them down before dawn broke on 29th September, the day of the rally. “Operation Bring Silly Poster Down” started at night time when some of us saw pictures of the hoardings posted on Twitter. Individuals who will not be named, went around at night guided by just images and information from other twitterati about where the locations could be and thse individual brought down the offending posters. The whole operation was much like ones you see in the James Bond movies – quiet, covert, and quick.

By the time the operation was over, it was nearly 5.30 in the morning and time for our alarms to ring. Some had slept for an hour, some for two and some had not slept at all, but all of us made our way to the Japanese Park. Rendezvous time was 7.30 am for the 10 am rally.

With 11 gates for entry and exit, the team of Modi fans were now separated. Twitterati who were supposed to catch up were not able to get together. At the last minute, passes were not available. Some groups ran short, but either way, everyone was settled in the grounds before the various leaders started speaking. I myself was responsible for looking after a tweeter who came from Mumbai. While waiting for him at the entrance, I saw large hardboard cutouts of all BJP leaders being brought in from the VIP gate. These were prominently displayed before the stage so that most walkers-in could glimpse them. Some volunteers saw me taking pictures from my iPhone and started posing with the cutouts. They asked me whether I will be printing the pictures in some newspaper and it was a little hard to explain to these gentlemen that I would be posting the pictures on Twitter and that they could look for them under the hashtag #ModifyDelhi. One such gentleman was very well aware and he said, he would definitely look for them.

Soon we were seated on our respective seats, and the various leaders started their speeches. Just after Modi came on the stage, the Shankhnaad was sounded. Shankhnaad (conch shell sound) is sounded before important prayers, meetings and wars. Whoever blew the conch shell blew it with full force for a whole minute. He seemed to have enormous lung power.

By this time, rain clouds had gathered and strong winds were blowing. This was a respite to those who were feeling listless because of the heat. In his speech, even Narendra Modi thanked the gods of wind, sky and water — Varun for making it comfortable for the attendees.

Some pitter patter fell on us but we were all under a tent and none of us got wet in the drizzle. Most of us welcomed the breeze, even though it bought dust with it.

During Modi’s speech, people climbed the tentpoles. A few groups took their flags and banners out on display while chanting his name. Some were waving their flags furiously and jumping about with excitement. Others screamed their lungs out and by the end of the rally, there were some who had lost their voices and were speaking hoarsely. At any given point, there was action that demanded your attention. That action was not only from Modi but from the crowds that go mad about him too.

I will not go in detail about the speeches as I am assuming that the reader of this article has seen Narendra Modi’s speech on TV or read about its content in the papers. My view of the rally is a behind the scenes perspective. By the time the speeches ended, Narendra Modi had given all of us and the media enough topics to talk about. The immediate effect of it was seen on Twitter where certain names and topics started trending.

People came out of the rally laughing, talking and discussing the various aspects of the speech. The organisers of the rally, Team BJP and volunteers were rather pleased about how successful the rally was and many media persons mentioned how well-organised it was.

That palpable excitement that existed on the rally grounds carried over on the following day as well, where topics from the rally were still trending on Twitter and are still being discussed about. This frenzy will continue for a few days till Modi makes another speech, and then the cycle will start all over again.
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