BANGALORE: ‘I want my nation to be Modified as a secure, prosperous and dignified nation. Do you?’ asks a car rear-window sticker in Mangalore. The brooding visage of Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi occupies a good part of the sticker. What started as one man’s idea generated several likes on Facebook and culminated in the birth of the NaMo brigade.
The NaMo ‘brigade’ is quick to distance itself from the NaMo ‘army’, which laid siege to LK Advani’s residence in New Delhi during the recent Goa gathering of the BJP. Mangalpady Naresh Shenoy, the 35-year-old founder of the NaMo brigade and distributor of ayurvedic medicines, says: “We are a group of businessmen and professionals in awe of Modi. He is the only hope for the country. What distinguishes us is that we are not card-carrying members of the BJP. We have members from other political parties too.”
Shenoy designed his Modi sticker and pasted it on his Toyota Innova on 23 May. He took a picture of it and uploaded it on his Facebook page. He says he got requests from all over India for the sticker. He ordered 10,000, of which 600 have been distributed.
Shenoy met Modi briefly at Mangalore airport in May when Modi campaigned for the state’s Assembly elections. This and conversations with friends led to the launch of the brigade. Two of Shenoy’s close friends, Vedavyas Kamath, who works in the cashew industry, and Venugopal Shenoy, an insurance consultant, joined him in his endeavour.
“They suggested we call it Narendra Modi’s ‘army’,” says Shenoy. “But I dissuaded them. The term ‘army’ does not fit here.” The group was formally launched in Bangalore on 14 July. Announcements in other cities are expected to follow. The NaMo brigade will also have a website with a ‘missed call’ alert facility. It plans to sell T-shirts online to raise money for pro-Modi awareness programmes. It also plans to distribute booklets in Kannada to farmers and others around Mangalore highlighting Modi’s ‘development efforts’ in Gujarat.▪