Road blocks, apartment lockdowns, shops shut in Bengaluru: BJP alters PM Modi roadshow schedule

PM Modi's 26-km roadshow, set to clash with NEET exam on Sunday, was advanced to Saturday; but a 10-km roadshow will be held on Sunday.

ByBellie Thomas

Published May 05, 2023 | 7:47 PM Updated May 11, 2023 | 2:52 PM

PM Modi at a roadshow in Karnataka

Less than a week before the 10 May Assembly elections in Karnataka, the ruling BJP seems to be paying the price of touching a nerve with the common man: It has had to modify the Bengaluru roadshow itinerary of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, no less.

The saffron party had planned a 36-km mega roadshow in Bengaluru with Modi as its star campaigner.

However, people’s reaction to the itinerary — especially the traffic restrictions and security measures detailed by the police — has now forced the party to modify it, albeit slightly.

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Initial change

Traffic Advisory for Modi's Road Show on Saturday

Traffic Advisory for Modi’s Road Show on Saturday

Modi’s roadshow in Bengaluru was supposed to take place on a single day. However, after social media was abuzz with concerns about inconvenience due to traffic restrictions and police security arrangements, the BJP announced on Thursday, 4 May, that the roadshow would be staggered over two days: Saturday and Sunday.

Yet, the concerns only grew on social media, where netizens expressed displeasure that the blocking of roads and sealing of gates of apartments would only restrict them to their homes instead of weekend getaways.

Moreover, students who were to appear for the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) — scheduled on Sunday — and their parents expressed concern on social media about travelling to examination centres amid heavy traffic restrictions and diversions.

One of them tweeted: “Sir, the examination centers are about 25+ kms from the residences for many. The reporting time is between 11:30AM – 1:00PM. If the road show concludes at 11:30AM how can they reach in time? Do you want students to leave reach centers before 10AM ? [sic]”

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Subsequent change

Soon after the adverse reactions and apprehensions went viral on social media, the Karnataka BJP once again modified the itinerary, advancing the 26-km roadshow from Sunday to Saturday, sources from the state unit of BJP told South First.

“We also shortened the roadshow distance on Sunday to conclude before 11.30 am so that medical students in Bengaluru would not be inconvenienced,” Shobha Karandlaje, Union Minister of State for Agriculture and Convenor of BJP Election Management Committee, told reporters at a press conference on Friday.

“To ensure no student is inconvenienced, we have directed police officers to drop students to the exam centre if they produce their hall tickets,” Karandlaje added.

Bengaluru South Member of Parliament Tejasvi Surya was quick to tweet: “On account of NEET exams on 7th of May, Hon. PM Sri @narendramodi Ji directed us to prepone the 26 km road show to the 6th of May and shorten the roadshow distance on 7th to conclude it before 1130 am. His one line directive was – ‘I don’t want even a single medical student in Bengaluru to be inconvenienced’. Proud to belong to a political party that is so sensitive & responsible to our students. [sic]”

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Meanwhile, social media was replete with people expressing displeasure at the security and traffic restrictions being enforced in view of Modi’s roadshow.

An apartment resident from Puttenahalli in JP Nagar in South Bengaluru shared a police notice that was sent to his apartment on Thursday on Twitter. The police notice stated:

  • The viewing of the rally and assembling on terraces or balconies is prohibited.
  • Vehicular movements would be stopped at 6 am on Saturday until the completion of the roadshow.
  • Entry and exit points of buildings would be closed, and unauthorised persons should not be allowed on the building premises.
  • People interested in viewing or participating in the event should come to the designated viewing area.
  • The police requested the people to cooperate with them and security personnel for any further instructions.

In case of emergency, one could contact the concerned police station, police inspector and police sub-inspectors, the police notice stated.

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Police statement

Deputy Commissioner of Police (VVIP Security) Manjunath Babu told South First that the roadshow had been organised on roads under the South, West, and North police divisions.

A police head constable (HC) from South Division in Bengaluru told South First: “We have issued directives to all apartment residents, regular residents, and commercial establishments on either side of the route of the roadshow not to use mobile phones to shoot it, and that no one should climb up on terraces or balconies to view the roadshow.”

They have also apparently been told that they could not peep through the windows and have to keep them closed.

The HC also said: “All the shops have been asked to remain closed from the start of the roadshow until it ends.”

These exercises were being followed as part of the security protocol, the head constable explained.

“Now take this Modi is visiting our road for election rally all the apartment complex get this letter from Police station! how do we digest this! after a long weeks work, we need to run our livelihood and now we are locked from 6 am till late afternoon. Is this what is democracy [sic].” the netizen asked.

Deputy Commissioner of Police (South Division, Bengaluru City) P Krishnakant told South First: “These are general advisories for the prime minister’s roadshow in South Bengaluru. There are designated viewing spots from which one can view the roadshow clearly and under police security. No other places will be allowed for the general public to view the roadshow.”