The police, predictably, had put in place high security measures at Kumbalgod for Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s election rally in Bangalore on Monday. However, once the skies opened up, all was thrown out of gear.
People, who had come from nearby villages, braved the sun and the rain to initially pass through the tight security checks to enter the venue. But the minute it started to rain, they all ran helter-skelter looking for cover. As the light drizzle made way for a heavy downpour, they clambered up buildings in the adjacent Industrial estate, only to be forced to get back to the venue by their leaders.
The second entry, however, came without any of the caution that the first one entailed. Security staff manning the entry gates stayed within the tents put up for the metal detector to avoid rain. Even the police at the main entrance of the venue were mute spectators to the mad scramble, including women and children.
Interestingly, there was no dearth of men who were trying to pick up packets of gutka, beedi and cigarettes that the police personnel had made them abandon during the first round of security check.
Burqa-clad women with babies in their arms, elderly men and women with walking sticks, students and factory workers… The crowd had them all. Several of them that The Hindu spoke to were not aware of who was speaking at the programme.
“We have been brought here by some leader. And, there was no reason we reject the offer because we have been given Rs. 300 and a plate of biryani apart from free transport,” said Arasamma, an aged resident of Kengeri Satellite town. Her teenage neighbour who had come along was seen helping her out of the venue.
With Mr. Singh speaking in English, none could understand what was being said. With no translation also being offered, people did not even bother to listen. In the absence of a proper sound system, the noisy crowd overtook Mr. Singh’s speech.