VARANASI: Amid a steady rain of rose petals, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s massive roadshow here on Thursday sought to create a ripple effect for the BJP in the eastern part of Uttar Pradesh.
In a throwback to Modi’s 2014 roadshow ahead of filing his nomination papers on Friday, the prime minister mounted an open roof black vehicle after garlanding the statue of Pandit Madan Mohan Malviya at the gate of the sprawling Banaras Hindu University.
Covering the 7-km stretch took about two hours, with thousands of onlookers cheering and chanting slogans all the way up to the Dasashwamedh Ghat where the majestic Ganga waters sparkled amid flashing camera lights.
The Ganga Arti (prayers to the holy river) waited for Modi as the roadshow got delayed. Modi had to nudge his supporters to allow the cavalcade to progress.
Clad in saffron kurta, with the BJP’s lotus symbol embossed on it, Modi waved to cheering supporters, which included children, women, youth and old alike. Rose petals were showered on him from rooftops. At Ganga Arti, Modi was joined by the BJP chief Amit Shah, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and other senior leaders. Amid chanting of mantras, he offered obeisance to the Ganga.
Later, speaking to a group of intellectuals, Modi touched upon the BJP’s poll theme of nationalism in the backdrop of India’s counter-terrorism actions after Pulwama and Uri terror attacks amid cheer.
“In the last five years, no terror attack could strike any temple in the country, while the spectre of terrorism is now just confined to a few areas in the Kashmir valley. After the Pulwama terror attack, not less than 42 terrorists have been neutralised,” Modi said, reminding the audience that there had been terror attacks on temples in Gujarat and UP since 2005.
He also dwelt upon the terror attacks in Sri Lanka to argue that security along with development is an biggest challenge. “What will your big cars do if there is no sense of security?” Modi said, while stressing that Pakistan has been isolated at the world fora.