Josh was not all that high at Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s first election rally at Meerut on Thursday. Muzaffarnagar MP Sanjeev Baliyan was reduced to repeatedly exhort the crowd to shout slogans louder and with a little more enthusiasm. An exasperated Baliyan at one point was overheard mumbling, ‘Be-izzat karwaiga kya?’ (Will we lose face?)
The Prime Minister himself made the lacklustre event worse by mouthing puerile acronyms. Playing on the first Hindi letters in the names of Samajwadi Party, Rashtriya Lok Dal and Bahujan Samaj Party, the Prime Minister declared that taken together the letters formed the word ‘Sarab’ which meant , he said, liquor, that was bad for health.
He was mercilessly trolled on Twitter where users pointed out that the word for liquor in Hindi was ‘Sharab’ and not ‘Sarab’. SP leader Akhilesh Yadav pointed out that ‘Sarab’ actually meant a mirage and pointed out that the PM was adept in showing mirages.
The Rashtriya Lok Dal responded with a tweet that lamented at the PM not learning the difference between ‘Sa’ and ‘Sha’ even after five years in office. While the Congress said that it was a cheap shot and below the dignity of his office, others came up with the first letters of the Prime Minister’s name and the name of BJP President Amit Shah to come up with the Hindi word ‘Nasha’. Both BJP and the PM seemed to be in a state of inebriation ( Nasha), they tweeted.
The rally turned into a damp squib with people complaining outside the venue about the various failures of the Modi Government.
The attendance too was not comparable to his rally in 2014. Several journalists tweeted pictures of vacant chairs and people expressed their surprise at no traffic snarl-up on the Ghaziabad-Meerut Road and beyond.
A video that was widely shared on WhatsApp has an unidentified man asking people in a bus whether they had been paid to attend the PM’s rally. They replied in the negative but at the same time smirked and added that they should not be asked why they came.
They were Muslim farmers in the bus from Charthawal assembly constituency. And they spoke freely about the menace of the stray cows, Triple Talaq and sugarcane prices which have not been paid.
Indian National Congress tweeted that on February 3 in 2017 the Prime Minister had promised that sugarcane prices would be paid in 14 days.