PM Modi receives a grand welcome in Bengaluru, where his popularity among urban youth is evident. The crowd at the roadshow also shows dissatisfaction with Congress for equating Bajrang Dal with PFI.
Bengaluru: Young boys dressed in traditional Brahmin attire and donning chandan tika create an atmosphere of sacredness as they wait for a glimpse of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is in town for a two-day roadshow starting Saturday. However, what draws one’s attention are the Lord Hanuman masks in their hands. The boys confidently put on the masks while chanting vedic mantras, displaying a defiance not typical of their peaceful demeanor.
The symbolism of this act becomes apparent when we speak to BJP leaders who were present here to welcome PM Modi on Saturday.
Former Bengaluru Police Commissioner and BJP candidate from Chamarajpet, Bhaskar Rao, who was present at the roadshow, states, “Congress is insensitive and foolish to have insulted followers of Pawan Putra Hanuman.”
On the same day as the roadshow, Union Home Minister Amit Shal also declared that Congress’ call for ban on Bajrang Dal will be seen as an insult by voters.
As The New Indian spoke with more people in the crowd from different parts of Karnataka, it became clear that Congress’s last-minute appeasement politics might not fare well with the voters. Siddaramiah, one of Congress’ tallest leaders, has irked many voters with his promise to repeal the anti-cow slaughter and anti-conversion laws. “We are Hindus, and these words from Congress leaders are very hurtful for us,” says a first-time voter for whom his Hindu identity is an important factor when he goes out to cast his vote this time. Many voters turned up with Hanuman masks, particularly displaying the god’s raudra (angry) avatar.
What was evident to this correspondent was that PM Modi’s popularity continues to rise in urban areas of Karnataka. “As a teacher, I can tell you that what Modi has done for the education system, digitisation, and infrastructure is unparalleled. We want him in Karnataka. He is an inspiration for the youth,” says Sonakshi, who came with her female friends and relatives, one of whom supported the PM with a newborn in her arms.
The voters of Bengaluru are primarily relying on national issues to decide whom to vote for. The gains made by the Narendra Modi government in national security and foreign policy – be it Sudan and Ukraine operations to rescue Indians, continue to be politically beneficial in urban pockets. “The world respects us today. This is Modi’s biggest achievement,” says another voter.
Although the BJP is experiencing internal conflicts, such as the exit of former CM Jagadish Shettar, a popular Lingayat leader, Siddaramaiah’s recent statements about cow slaughter, reservation for Muslims, and anti-conversion laws have successfully polarized Hindu votes in the last phase of the election campaign.
Karnataka with 224 Assembly seats goes to polls on May 10. The results will be declared on May 13.