When I heard that Mr Modi is taking crowds from here for slogan shouting during his foreign visits I saw a great opportunity for myself. I had no reason to believe that this was a mere wild allegation for the statement had come from the mouth of a seasoned political leader.
I immediately contacted someone who knew someone in Sangh parivar. That someone spoke to someone in BJP. That someone in BJP called someone who was related to someone in PMO. Eventually my request was placed before Mr Modi (I was later told that every decision about crowd management is taken by Mr Modi himself) on the side-lines of G-20 summit.
And since Mr Modi is a quick decision taker, I promptly received a 10-page questionnaire; Mr Modi wanted to know everything about me; how many times I had been part of managed crowds in India; what had been my substantive contribution as a managed crowd; what were my views on Ram Mandir; did I do NaMo jap, if so how many times a week; so on and so forth.
After I had satisfied ‘him’ with my crisp answers (I had been warned that answers had to be brief and to the point, I was to use not more than five words per answer) I was given four options but no lifeline to help me make up my mind. I thought that was insulting; if I was volunteering to be managed as a crowd then I deserved the courtesy of at least one lifeline for choosing one option out of four.
My anger and reaction unnerved many people who were not prepared to raise this matter with ‘him’. Eventually Sangh Parivar had to intervene; there is rumour that Sangh Pramukh was displeased with the poor management of crowds by the BJP. On their insistence every volunteer was given two lifelines, phone a well-wisher and double dip, before he exercised his option. Those who were being compelled to be part of the managed crowd were not given these lifelines. I thought it was a fair decision.
I willingly used one lifeline and called a well-wisher and on his advice I opted to go to Germany during the next visit of Mr Modi and be part of the managed crowd; I would be initially part of Hamburg Bhangra Group and later I would have to travel as a resident of Munich on a train to Berlin and cheer him at a public function that would be organised there.
But there are no free lunches in the world. Mr Modi being a true Gujarati had extracted his pound of flesh for this favour he had done to me. I had to give an undertaking that I would be part of managed crowds if and when Mr Modi decided to visit Timbukto and Burkina Faso. In Timbukto I would be a member of Timbukto Indian Association and in Burkina Faso I would be part of Indian Dance Group.
But let me say one thing quite candidly. I can’t help but admire Mr Modi’s crowd management and long term planning; he is truly a great leader.