Around the same time that the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi addressed supporters at Palace Grounds, a large gathering of his critics held a protest rally in Bangalore.
On Sunday morning, a large group of people gathered at the Banappa Park to participate in a protest meet, where representatives from several organisations articulated their opposition to Mr. Modi’s political and economic legacy. Protesters marched from Banappa Park to Town Hall, where they were joined by some more groups including a women's contingent from the State unit of the Congress. The rally culminated with the burning of an effigy of Mr. Modi, an act the protesters said was a symbol of their rejection of his brand of “communal and divisive politics.”
The event was organised by the Komu Souhrada Vedike, and in the run up to Sunday's rally, similar demonstrations were organised in 15 districts of the State on Friday and Saturday.
According to police estimates, the protest rally had at least 500 participants. Protesters held banners and posters recounting the horrors of the 2002 pogrom in Gujarat and shouted slogans against communalism.
The protest rally is significant because it is the first fully organised protest against Mr. Modi, said writer Gauri Lankesh. “As we approach this important election, like-minded groups should get together as it is the only way to counter the hype and lies built around him,” she said. Former Chairman of the State Backward Classes Commission C. S. Dwarakanath said the Gujarat model was two-pronged. “One, it has created a fear in the minds of the minorities, and two, his PR agents have built an illusion that has been sold to the middle classes. A close look at any economic indicators in his State will show he is no messiah; the common man, backward classes, dalits and tribals have been untouched by this model.”
Groups including the Popular Front of India and the Social Democratic Party of India participated. Yusuf, a member of the PFI from Mandya district, said minorities must join to protest against fascist forces that threaten their existence. A booklet titled ‘Gujarat Model: destructive, capitalist and dangerous governance’ was also released.