Breaking security protocol, Prime Minister Narendra Modi mingled with crowds as he embarked on a road show soon after landing at the Biju Patnaik airport, en route to the BJP national executive meet.
Chants of `Modi' filled the air as the PM made his way from the airport to the Raj Bhavan and then to the venue of the meet at Janta Maidan, standing on the footrest of his Range Rover for the better part of the 8 km journey .
During the one-hour journey, Modi constantly waved to the people who had lined up on both sides of the route despite the scorching sun to cheer him. Overlooking all security paraphernalia, Modi even allowed some to take selfies with him.
Modi was greeted by the BJP brass at the airport. Modi garlanded portraits of noted Odia icons such as Madhusudan Das, Gopabandhu Das, Gangadhar Meher and Krushna Chandra Gajapati. When state BJP members greeted Modi, a musical composition by the late Raghunath Panigrahi was played amid the beating of `Ghanta', a traditional musical instrument.
The enthusiastic crowd who waited for two to three hours for the PM's arrival summed up the mood, which could be heartening for the saffron cadre in the state where the party won just one of 21 Lok Sabha seats and 10 of 147 assembly seats in 2014. Acknowledging the warmth shown to him, Modi tweeted, “Landed in Odisha to a memorable welcome. Gratitude to the people for the warmth...“
After finishing second to BJD in the recent panchayat polls, state BJP members are optimistic to emerge an alter native to the BJD government, which is in its fourth term.And the party banks immensely on the credibility quotient of Modi on account of the government's pro-poor schemes, including Ujjawala, and measures like demonetisation.