Kolkata, Mar 7 (PTI) Chants of 'Jai Shri Ram' and 'Bharat Mata Ki Jai' pervaded the sprawling Brigade Parade Ground and the adjoining tree-lined avenues in Kolkata as lakhs of BJP supporters converged for Prime Minister Narendra Modi's first rally in West Bengal after the announcement of the state polls.
The exuberant crowd, with many wearing saffron scarves, milled around the sprawling ground that has been witness to political rallies from before Independence, and cheered speakers like Mukul Roy and Suvendu Adhikari as they launched a tirade at the ruling Trinamool Congress.
As yesteryear Bollywood star Mithun Chakraborty, who joined the BJP at the meeting and gave a call for building a 'sonar bangla' (golden Bengal), shouts of 'Guru, Guru' rent the air. The crowd lustily cheered the veteran actor-turned- politician, who had starred in the commercially successful 1989 film 'Guru'.
The largest cheer went up for Prime Minister Narendra Modi as he took to the podium and gave a call for 'asol poriborton' (true change) in Bengali.
Many in the crowd held up pictures of Modi and carried cartoon figures caricaturing the TMC supremo and her 'khela hobe' (let there be game) campaign, while BJP flags fluttered across the landscape.
The rally venue reverberated with sounds of drum beats and stringed ek tara as BJP supporters from the tribal Jangalmahal belt and Nadia district upped the crescendo as Modi arrived on stage.
Ae cutout carried by a group showed Mamata Banerjee departing from the scene with 'Pisi Jao' (aunty go) written in bold letters.
'Pisi Jao' is a poll campaign song launched recently by the BJP, inspired by the well known 'Bella Ciao' lyrics.
Meaning 'Goodbye beautiful', 'Bella Ciao' is an Italian protest song that originated in the late 19th century against the oppressive working conditions in the paddy fields of North Italy.
Earlier in the day, thousands of BJP supporters and workers from districts arrived at Brigade Parade Ground in the central hub of the city in buses and other vehicles. Several reserved buses from Purbo and Paschim Medinipur had supporters sitting on the roof.
Carrying BJP flags and lotus symbols they painted the city and the rally venue in saffron hues.
Jiten Paswan, a hawker peddling party symbols and pictures of political personalities, looked a happy soul.
'I could sell several large Modi photographs and scarves with Jai Shri Ram embossed on them. My stock of 100 is exhausted,' Paswan said.
He said exactly one week back, he had sold around 60 hammer and sickle symbols on cardboards during another rally organised jointly by the Left Front, Congress and Indian Secular Front.
'While the crowd was mostly Bengali speaking in the earlier meeting, today it is a heady mix of Bengali and Hindi speaking people,' he said. PTI SUS JRC SK SK