‘If Obama sold ice cream, what’s wrong if I sold tea?’


About 300 chaiwallahs (tea vendors) from across the city attended Narendra Modi's rally Sunday. While the BJP claimed to have sent invites to 10,000 tea vendors in Mumbai, leaders said those without passes were not allowed to enter the premises.

Modi, in his recent speeches, has referred to his childhood and adolescent years when he was a tea vendor. On Sunday, he said, "I have read reports that my party has extended invitations to tea vendors for the rally. If US President Barack Obama could sell ice cream, Abraham Lincoln could work as woodcutter, former President of India A P J Abdul Kalam could sell newspaper, what's wrong if I sold tea? To me, every citizen of India is important."

Kamlesh Patel (35), an Udaipur native who has been selling tea at Bandra Reclamation for the past eight years, attended the rally. "We liked the strong manner in which he spoke to the crowd. I will vote for him if I get a chance to go to my hometown during elections," he said.

Jagdish Daya, also from Rajasthan, started with a tea stall in Bandra (East) 20 years ago. The shop is now a 125-sq ft makeshift structure. "I am a staunch supporter of the BJP and meeting Modi was like a dream come true. There is no leader today who comes close to him in comparison. Though we were not given a chance to interact with him individually, we are still happy," he said.

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