App cab driver
On his dashboard stands a decorative piece of Mecca-Medina. Girish, 32, explains it matter-of-factly, reflecting the persona of a liberal. “I bought this car some seven months back from a Muslim bhai. I didn’t remove (the Mecca-Medina) piece,” he says. “Upar wala ek hota hai, sir. Bande gadbad hote hai,” (The Almighty is one, sir. It’s the followers who are bad),” he adds.
Ask him about the polls and he tries to tease. He says the slogan in every home is, “desh bachao….” He does not complete the sentence, but waits. Not getting an answer, he adds: “Desh bachao, Modi lao (Save the country, elect Modi).”
Girish Bhutia App cab driver Telegraph picture
Girish feels people opposing Modi are “blind and deaf”.
“Can’t they see how much Modi has achieved? How hard he works?” he says, getting a little aggressive. “If Modi loses, this country will be enslaved once again,” he adds in a shrill voice.
He reveals he had been associated with the RSS in his early youth but now concentrates on his work. However, he has turned into a campaigner for Modi.
“I’m very active on Facebook. These days whenever I get time between trips I campaign for Modi,” he says. “This is my small contribution for the country.
“The Hindu religion is endangered,” he continues. “The way Muslims have taken to jihad across the world, it would be very difficult to save Hinduism. Only Modi can save us.” Islam, he says, is not bad but people who follow the religion “you can’t trust them”. He also informs that he belongs to the baniya (trader) caste.
Umesh Tiwari Hotel employee Telegraph picture
Umesh, who hails from Rewa, some 500km away, has settled in Bhopal. He studies law by the day, works as an insurance agent, and in the evenings he is at the hotel bar-cum-restaurant.
“Had the social media revolution happened early in India, Congress would have been defeated long back,” he says as he packs leftover chilli chicken for a customer. “I’m a Brahmin and a pure vegetarian. But I have to do all this,” he says.
He acknowledges that social media has played a big role in powering the Modi juggernaut by damning the Congress. But aren’t most things being spread on social media fake? “Fifty percent of it must be true?” Umesh replies.
He says that through social media youths like him have come to know how the Congress has destroyed the country.
“Congress ruled the country for over 50 years. What did they do? Only corruption. Why is India still backward? Had the Congress and the Gandhi family ruled honestly I would not have to run from pillar to post for a decent job,” he says.
He slams Rahul Gandhi for the poll promise to give every poor family Rs 6,000 a month: “Desh bech ke paisa layenge kya (Will he get the money by selling the country)?”
Kailash Sharma Electrician Telegraph picture
Ask Kailash, 52, about the drift of the elections, he first finds out your leaning. He speaks as if he is revealing a big secret.
“This is a precarious time for India. We can’t afford to take any risk. We need a PM like Modi,” he says. Ask him how the country is threatened; he looks around to ensure nobody is hearing. “China and Pakistan have joined hands,” he says. “Only a leader a like Modi can save us. Didn’t you see how intelligently he got America and other strong countries to put pressure on China to get Masood Azhar declared a global terrorist?”
Kailash says he wanted to join the army and serve the country in his youth but couldn’t make it despite clearing all tests. “The officer asked for a bribe of Rs 35,000 and I didn’t have money,” he says. “I maybe poor but a Brahmin can’t turn into a thief. Brahman bhagwan se darta hai, sir (a Brahmin fears God, sir),” he adds.
“I took training for an electrician. With God’s grace today I’m earning for my wife and three children. But I still love my country and I so I support Modiji.”
Sanjay, 25, is from Sagar district of Madhya Pradesh and is settled in Bhopal for the last five years. In some villages, Dalits of his caste are supporting the Congress; would it be fair to assume he too backs the party? “No, sir, I support Modiji,” he replies.
Isn’t the BJP seen primarily as a Brahmin and baniya party? “Yes sir. The BJP is still a Brahmin and baniya party. They hardly care for us Dalits. But I feel that for the country, I should support Modiji,” he says. “Desh bachega tab apni ladai lad lenge (The country must survive, then we will fight our battle).”
Sanjay informs that he too is very active on Facebook and campaigns for “Modi again”.
Bhopal voted on Sunday