Standing in the midst of a massive crowd and listening to the chant ‘Modi, Modi, Modi’, I had to pinch myself to believe that I was really attending a political rally and not a rock concert. Frenzied support that Modi evokes has to be seen to be believed. But then this was my first political rally and I was simply overwhelmed. Everything I experienced may be because of my anxiety and excitement to see what it feels like to take my virtual world of social media activism to the real world. Attending a political rally was certainly a tentative first step towards advancing my political activism and crystallising a commitment towards a political ideology.
I come from a conservative middle class family and the only time we were politically engaged was during the elections. My parents regularly exercised their franchise but active association with a political party was something unthinkable. My mother would not have approved such association/participation. Yes #MyMotherToldMe to stay away from the politicians and the people associated with the political parties. The Indian middle class view politics and politicians as outlaws. The lack of political involvement of middle class is largely due to the perceived criminalisation of politics over the last few decades.
I will not focus on what was said in the rally and who said it rather I would like to share what I had expected and what I eventually experienced.
We reached venue well before time and felt the sense of excitement in the air. There were many youngsters walking in groups, walking with one or two friends to the venue. One could notice palpable excitement on the faces of those who came to attend. Security at the venue and on the roads to the venue seemed adequate. There were announcements about the number of entry/exit gates, medical facility, and water/sanitation facility available at the venue. Post 11:00 am; there was real surge in the number of people around us. We had to squeeze in to accommodate further people.
We walked from Rohini West Metro station to Japani Park and on the way learned that Congress had played put up some posters with their pet ‘Feku’ remark. There were many passionate NaMo supporters with me on the way to venue and I learned that one particular supporter spent whole night making sure all posters are back in its place -Dustbin.
I must admit there was a little apprehension in my mind whether crowd will turn up. Whatever sting operation media might have carried out, I saw the crowd building up from 9:00 am till 11:30 am. We were supposed to sit in the VIP area, but the whole group decided to take seats with the general crowd as the view was better and it was also near to the main stage.
We as a society need to learn to understand the safety standards. Climbing on pole might make good photo ops and serve well for the smart word play like “Pole-rising”, but certainly this is not safe and it should not be allowed in any rallies like these.
If anyone has not been to a public rally of NaMo, he/she have to believe what others express about the kind of support he gets across different sections of society, age group and genders. I have seen grand-son and his grandfather walking out of rally passionately discussing NaMo’s speech. There were females/ house wife listening to NaMo passionately, father with his son and young couple all could be seen enjoying atmosphere of optimism. People from all walks of life were there to be a part of NaMo’s magic and wanted to make their presence felt in the history.
Considering number of people attending the rally I understand why my parents would never approve to go such rally. Even if they permit me, I am sure they will never approve my sisters or my wife or my son joining me. I personally think political rallies in general are not Women/Children/Senior citizen friendly. Expecting females to be cramped along with other males to listen political rally is too much to expect, but I was proven wrong in Delhi.
There were many passionate females there to prove me wrong. NaMo highlighted importance of women power and importance of their participation in decision making his recent speech. I am sure women participation will increase manifold, if they are assured of a safe environment. Timing of the rally was very crucial, since rally was in morning, many women felt safe to come down at rally even alone.
There is absolutely no intention of being preachy, but I am just sharing the apprehension of middle class voters (I am one of them), who don’t participate in the political process of our country and attending political rally is just part of the process. People came to the rally, next BJP have to make sure that people also come to voting booth and cast votes in its favour. If this objective needs to be achieved, engagement with people has to go to the next level. I hope BJP accommodates following in its future political rallies.
Clear announcement with respect to number of entry and exit gates (these announcements were made at Delhi.)
A basic facility such as fans, sanitation facility, drinking water, appropriate security and friendly volunteers to make sure public order is maintained. I have seen everything there at Delhi; I hope same standard will be maintained for all future rallies.
Different sections for women, Senior citizen, Citizen with special needs. I hope this will increase women participation.
With such large number of people turning up to listen NaMo, it gives tremendous opportunity to get feedback/expectation from new government. BJP IT cell has been doing great job. This new initiative would give them range of issues and expectation from people would like them to address.