Mumbai turns a fortress for Modi's mega rally today
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Expecting a massive turnout for BJP prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi's Mahagarjana rally at MMRDA grounds at Bandra Kurla Complex on Sunday, the police have thrown a seven-tier security cordon at the venue while an unmanned aerial vehicle have been pressed into service for surveillance.
Top BJP leaders such as Rajnath Singh, Nitin Gadkari, Gopinath Munde, Rajiv Pratap Rudy and Venkaiah Naidu will be present at the rally. Party veteran L K Advani, however, has chosen to stay away.
Shiv Sena leaders have not been invited for the rally. "This event is only for BJP workers of Maharashtra, not an NDA event, in which case our allies would have been invited," state BJP spokesperson Madhav Bhandari said, adding that the consul generals of various countries based in Mumbai are also among the invitees that include doctors, lawyers, chartered accountants, educationists, traders and industrialists.
"We have invited people from all walks of life. In fact, consul generals of Australia, Russia and Zambia have confirmed their attendance. Big industrialists have been invited too, but since they fear a backlash from the government for being associated with Modi, they cannot show their support openly," Bhandari said.
As a symbolic gesture, 10,000 local tea-vendors have also been invited to attend the rally. In his recent rallies, Modi has been referring to his days as a tea-vendor. "A special seating area has been ear-marked for them," said Mumbai BJP chief Raj Purhoit.
In order to ensure smooth travel to Mumbai for workers expected to come from across the state, the BJP has booked 22 special long-distance trains on Western and Central Railway. In all, the railways have arranged for 44 special trains between December 21 and December 23.
For transporting people from stations to BKC, over 1,000 BEST and private buses have been hired by the party.