Other States

Modest crowd, high hopes

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On Monday morning, hours before Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrived at the Sher-i-Kashmir Cricket stadium to address his first-ever rally in Srinagar, groups of people walked through the foggy streets of Lal Chowk to reach the TRC Road where the J&K Police and CRPF had set up the first tier of the security check.

The number of people, though in thousands, was much below the BJP target of “one lakh” for the rally. The J&K police estimated the crowd to be around 7,000.

People were brought from villages, near and far, and from Ramban and Banihal districts of Jammu in vehicles arranged by the BJP.

While a few came to hear Mr. Modi, others hoped that their myriad problems would be solved by going to the rally. “An important announcement is going to be made about relief for the flood victims today [on Monday] and I have lost my house and cowshed in the floods. I am hopeful that we would be helped,” Mohammad Yaqoob Wagay, a resident of Sumbal in north Kashmir, told The Hindu.

Mr. Wagay said vehicles came to their village to pick them up and dropped them a kilometre from the venue. He said they were promised to be dropped back to their village after the rally.

The TRC Road was covered with BJP buntings and hoardings welcoming Mr. Modi to Kashmir. Each BJP candidate came with a dozen supporters who shouted slogans in support of Mr. Modi and the BJP. The candidates arrived one by one from Hazratbal, Batamaloo and many other places in the Valley.

Scores of vehicles packed with people came from People’s Conference (PC) leader Sajjad Lone’s constituency Handwara. Some PC workers walked the roads near the venue with BJP scarves around their neck. “I am a worker of People’s Conference. We came here to support the BJP,” one of the attendants told The Hindu.

Before Mr. Modi arrived at the venue, several local BJP leaders tried hard to cheer the crowd and get them to shout pro-India and pro-BJP slogans.

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Printable version | Jan 23, 2020 2:17:31 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/modi-kashmir-rally/article6674153.ece

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