Modi lookalike, K-9 squad enthral crowd

Modi look-alike Nagaraj (C) poses with schoolgirls at the Manekshaw Parade Ground; (right) schoolchildren have a ball during the I-Day celebrations. DH PHOTO/Akhil Kadidal

From a Modi impresario to heavily-armed troops pulled from the Indian frontier, the march of visually-impaired girls and a 35-strong contingent of K-9 cops, the Independence Day celebration at Manekshaw Parade Ground was textbook definition of variety.

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Nagaraj, a 67-year-old former general manager of a bank, dressed in a saffron kurta and brown vest, who bore an uncanny resemblance to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, appeared to come out of nowhere at the tail end of the celebrations in central Bengaluru on Thursday.

A great throng of people had surrounded Nagaraj, vying to take selfies or have photographs taken with him. “I have no political identity but I can say that I am a disciple of our prime minister, who I have found compelling since he was the chief minister of Gujarat, because of his years spent in the Himalayas,” Nagaraj said.

Among those flocking to the imitation leader’s side was 26-year-old Sadam George, an IT worker from Tamil Nadu, who said while he is a loyal supporter of M K Stalin’s DMK party, he was also enthralled by the cult of Modi, describing the prime minister as brave, honest and strong.

Others seeking to take a photo with Nagaraj, said this was likely the closest they would ever get to Modi. 

Altogether, the parade was sustained by over 10 different contingents ranging from personnel of the Central Reserve Police Force to schools from various parts of the city. Much of the sights, however, were lost on the contingent of 35 visually impaired and other differently abled students from the Samarathanam Trust.

“Although many of us could not see the festivities, we are nevertheless happy to be here,” said Kalavathi, a student. 

Schoolchildren dominated the ceremonies with their sequenced performance including an inspired Bollywood-style rendition of the 1919 Jallian Wala Bagh Massacre, with musical numbers. The City Armed Reserve Force’s K-9 contingent came close to stealing the show. The dogs, part of the CARF’s force of 60 animals, are routinely used to address bomb threats and participate in tracking drug trafficking, police officers said.

Troopers of the Border Security Force, resplendent in yellow-feathered black berets and purple, red and yellow waist sashes and cravats, armed with Israeli-supplied Tar-21 assault rifles, drew the most number of requests for selfies from people attending the event. 

Many said they were on active duty before being assigned to the parade.

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