Smriti Irani unable to attend, Meenakshi Lekhi takes lead at Namo Bharath rally4 min read
MALPE: On March 3, Malpe Beach drew a crowd of 15,000 in anticipation of Smriti Irani. The Union Textile Minister’s first visit to Udupi was for a pro-Modi rally titled Paanchajanya Mega Youth Conclave, organised by a youth-led national initiative known as Namo Bharath.
As per the event’s schedule, the Chief Guests were Smriti Irani and Meenakshi Lekhi, Member of Parliament in the Lok Sabha and national spokesperson of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). However, due to important commitments at Amethi, involving the inauguration of an AK-203 rifle manufacturing factory, Smriti Irani could not be present to address the masses at Malpe.
Fully fledged with patriotically-themed entertainment in the form of singing and dance performances, the event was followed by Meenakshi Lekhi addressing the crowd. She started off by including everyone gathered, to join her for a minute’s solitude in remembrance of the fallen soldiers of the Pulwama attacks, eventually expressing agitation against Pakistan.
Lekhi also stressed how important Abhinandan Varthaman’s return was, drawing parallels to the 1971 war when 54 Indian soldiers were held captive in Pakistan, unreturned to their country. She differentiated between killing in a warzone and denigrating the already dead by mutilating their bodies, exemplifying Kargil martyr Saurabh Kalia.
The crowds roared in response when she asked “How’s the Josh?” “High sir!” “How’s the Jaish?” “Dead sir!” whilst pointing out the differences between the two nations’ civilisations. She spoke in high regard of “the son of the soil” referring to Narendra Modi as the rightful leader of the nation. Listing out the achievements of his governance such as infrastructure, transportation systems, women’s empowerment and security, education, and Ayushman Bharat, she highlighted the successes of his term.
When questioned if Modi would rise to power again, Lekhi replied “If? There is no if, because he will. The courage and commitment to the service of the nation that Modiji has shown is unparalleled to that of any of the previous administrations. India has waited a long time for a man like this, and he is finally here.”
Of matters concerning the fishermen from Malpe who went missing in December, 2018, Lekhi sparked chatter amongst the crowd when she claimed “…going by the reports in the newspaper this morning, we may get some good news from Dubai, and some fishermen are likely to be tracked and brought back.” An anonymous source conversely proposed that her statement was in fact false, and was a gimmick played by BJP to reel in more support from the local communities. Hitherto, there are no news reports that support her claim.
“The idea behind Namo Bharath stemmed from the fact that the youth are quite reluctant to participate in politics. We are the future, and the system changes with us. We’ve recognised the positive aspects of the Modi Government and have come to a conclusion that Narendra Modi is the leader the country needs in 2019,” said Nishit Singh Chauhan, a student from Manipal Institute of Technology (MIT), about the objective of Namo Bharath.
The entire stretch of the main location had been fortified with tight security comprising of a police force of over 150 in numbers and mobile ambulance services. Extra precaution was taken in order to prevent malicious happenings such as the one on March 1, where local teen Srujan (18) recorded a video of himself yelling “Pakistan Zindabad,” threatening to place a bomb at the beach. Consequently, after a thorough search conducted by the Udupi police, Srujan was put behind bars.
Other dignitaries in attendance were Lok Sabha member from Udupi-Chikmagalur Shobha Karandlaje, US based businessman Dr Sitaram Bhatt, State Convener of Namo Bharath in Karnataka Chetan Azad, and co-convener Shashank Shivathaya.
Featured Image Courtesy: Aayush Sinha
Edited by: Bhavna Subramanian