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Modi speaks language of money in western UP

May 05, 2009 03:34 IST
Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi on Monday visited that region of Uttar Pradesh where the streets are paved with gold, and fittingly, spoke the language of money. Western UP -- from Bareilly to Agra and Bijnore, including Meerut, Aligarh and Rampur -- is wealthy and sends 31 seats to the Lok Sabha.

"Does Laxmi come riding on a bicycle (the election symbol of the Samajwadi party)? Does she ride an elephant (the symbol of the Bahujan Samaj Party)?" he asked at a rally as part of his tour of western UP. "No", he said answering his own question, "She comes seated on a lotus. So, if you want Laxmi (rubbing index finger with thumb, the age-old gesture signifying money), you must vote the lotus."

The crowd just loved it. Although there were only about 5,000 people in Meerut's Gymkhana Park, a small meeting by any standards (especially when just a day before, more than 100,000 people had thronged to a Samajwadi Party meeting that Sanjay Dutt addressed with Amar Singh), the crowd roared when Modi critiqued Home Minister P Chidambaram.

As elsewhere, in Meerut too Modi was all drama. "Laxmi is not safe. Look what they've done to our country", he said. "People fired at Mumbai's heart. And what did the home minister do? Pakistan was the one that fired the shot -- and the home minister went to America, a box of documents on his head.

Jibes at vote-bank politics in a region where Muslims are both affluent and growing in numbers because of Bangladeshi influx, were aplenty. "I went to Assam. Gujarat shares a border with Pakistan. Assam shares a border with Bangaldesh. In Assam, Muslims came to me to tell: Stop Bangladeshis from coming to India. I asked why. They said Bangladeshi labour is undercutting us, taking away our jobs. I said: Pakistan is my lot, Bangladesh is yours."

Aditi Phadnis
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