Modi leads roadshow in Odisha
Prime Minister Narendra Modi today led a roadshow and mingled with crowds at several places breaking security protocol as he arrived here to attend the two-day BJP national executive meeting with saffron expansion in Odisha being its key agenda.
A large number of people stood along the road as Modi stood on his Range Rover's foot rest with its door open acknowledging the cheering and slogan-chanting masses.
Odisha BJP chief Basanta Panda claimed that his road show will herald a "new era of politics" in the state, hopeful that his party, always a marginal force in this eastern state, will emerge as the key challenger to the ruling BJD by the time next Lok Sabha and assembly polls arrive in 2019.
It was almost a 9-km long roadshow starting from the city airport to the Raj Bhawan and then to the executive meeting venue.
Modi, who was clad in all white, beamed and waved at the people gathered on both sides of the road for a glimpse with lotus flowers in their hands.
Defying the security cordon he even got off his vehicle a couple of times, walked up to people, greeted them and even shook hands with some of them.
He also offered floral tributes to freedom fighters and illustrious sons of the soil on his way to the Raj Bhavan.
As the Prime Minister's 9 km-long roadshow passed through the main road connecting the airport and the Raj Bhavan, the air was rent with the chants of 'Modi .. Modi', 'Bharat Mata Ki Jai' and 'Bande Mataram'.
The state BJP also organised folk dance, songs and folk music at different places along the route taken by the Prime Minister.
He received lotus flowers when he was felicitated by members of the BJP's Mahila Morcha in front of the Raj Bhavan.
After a 20-minute halt at Raj Bhavan, Modi resumed his roadshow. He got off the vehicle and walked about half-a-km near Jaidev Vihar to mingle freely with the people before arriving at Janata Maidan, the venue of the two-day national executive.
Meanwhile, life-size cutouts of BJP president Amit Shah, who is here to attend the party's national executive meeting, were found torn and defaced at Power House Chhak area.
Cutouts of Prime Minister Narendra Modi were, however, left untouched.
"It is an unfortunate incident. We condemn it as such an act is against the culture and tradition of Odisha," senior BJP leader Suresh Pujari said.
Pujari accused ruling BJD activists as being behind the incident and said that the party's leaders were worried over BJP's surge in Odisha.
Some other BJP leaders too claimed that the incident is the work of their political rivals. Police are, however, yet to find the culprits.
Rejecting the allegations, BJD spokesperson Dibya Shankar Mishra said "BJD does not believe in such vandalism."
Some senior BJP workers have expressed disappointment over the absence of cutouts of former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and party veteran L K Advani.
BJP's two-day national executive meeting will begin here today with all party bigwigs including Prime Minister Narendra Modi joining the deliberations.