Reported by Santosh Jagdev
Bhubaneswar, Jan 6:
While everybody was focused on the elaborately deocrated dais at the venue of BJP President Amit Shah’s rally at the Unit VI ground here, odishasuntimes did a reality check on things happening beyond the dais. Here is what we found:
Amit Shah Who?
Given the massive build up to Amit Shah’s rally, one was amused to find that many of those who thronged the venue for the BJP’s ‘Mahasangram’ rally at the Unit VI ground here today did not know who he was.
“I am here to attend the Samabesh. Our local leader Bhagaban Panda had asked us to come here. Fifty of us from our area have come here on a bus arranged by our leader. I was told someone is coming from Delhi to speak at the event,” said Biplab Dalabehera, a farmer from Ganjam.
The motivation of Prahalad Barik, a farmer from Bhadrak district, was different. “I was told someone from Delhi will come and say something about the chit fund scam. That is why I am here,” he told this reporter.
In the lead up to the rally, commissionerate police had bragged about how it had made ‘foolproof’ security and traffic arrangements to ensure that everything went off ‘smoothly’ before, during and after the rally.
But all these ‘elaborate arrangements’ came to nought on the day when it mattered the most. Traffic policemen had a tough time controlling the sea of humanity headed to the meeting venue. There was complete chaos at AG Square and Capital Hospital Square in particular what with thousands of people crossing the roads making it hard for the hassled traffic personnel to make way for the hundreds of vehicles, which were also headed to the same place.
Ambulances faced a lot of problem in carrying patients in and out of the Capital Hospital at its two gates. One with a patient in it got stuck in the crowd for several anxious minutes before it could move out.
Swachh Bharat campaign goes for a toss
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s much hyped Swachh Bharat campaign went for a six as the thousands of people who thronged the rally venue littered the whole area with empty food packets, plastic and paper plates and foodstuff.
Dozens of makeshift shops had come up in the area hoping to cash in on the large crowd and do some brisk business. And they were not disappointed. The only problem: garbage was strewn all over the place.
But there were no dustbins to be seen in the place. Nor was there any announcement over the loudspeakers requesting people not to litter the place and to dispose of their used plates at the proper place. The organisers had clearly forgotten all about their supreme leader’s Swachh Bharat campaign.
Woman power was on ample display at the rally today with Simantini Jena, the president of the Mahila Morcha, clad in a saffron saree with a lotus symbol embossed on it, leading the way.
In a move that was clearly aimed at cutting at the roots of BJD supremo Naveen Patnaik’s ongoing love affair with the women in the state (as reflected in the results of the last elections), the Mahila Morcha had put hoardings that sought to puncture his government’s professed concern for women.
Banita, Sunita, Itishree, Bebina, Madhabilata and Sujata – they were all there – in the shape of newspaper clippings – reminding everybody of the Naveen government’s shameful record in protecting women.
“But where is the food?”
Many of those who had come for the rally had their minds focussed on things other than Amit Shah’s speech. Some of them were heard asking all and sundry about the food arrangements.
“The local leader asked us to attend the rally. But he failed to inform us about the food venue,” said an angry Bhagaban Senapati.
Some of the people decided not to take any chances and partook of the dahibara aludam that the vendors had on offer, lest they went hungry.