PM Modi has a reputation of tilting polls with his last-minute election addresses, and this time too BJP has lined up back-to-back rallies for him.
New Delhi: As political parties move into the last leg of the campaign for the assembly elections, the Congress brass is busy tackling one of its major worries: Rallies by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Senior Congress leaders say that while the party is quite happy with the way its election campaign has unfolded so far, it is worried by the series of rallies that the Prime Minister is slated to attend in Madhya Pradesh, apart from the 10 in Rajasthan and four in Telangana.
Modi addressed two rallies in Madhya Pradesh Saturday and another two Sunday — at Vidhisha and Jabalpur — as he wound up his campaign in the poll-bound state. Madhya Pradesh goes to polls on 28 November, where Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan is fighting strong anti-incumbency in his bid for a fourth term.
The BJP seems to be relying on the strategy it used for last year’s Gujarat assembly elections and the state elections in Karnataka this year. In Karnataka, the BJP at the last minute had increased the number of rallies by the Prime Minister from 15 to 21 after witnessing a positive response from the people.
Congress to target Modi ‘misinformation’
The Congress has a game-plan too.
“The rallies by Modi in the last few days of elections are something we are trying to tackle by concentrating on our positive campaign and pointing out any misinformation in his speeches. But yes, it is a challenge,” said a senior Congress leader.
“Our campaign has been quite strong, not only on social media but the way we planned our public meetings too. There is a lot of anger among the people towards the incumbent government.”
The Congress is also trying to use its star campaigner, Punjab minister Navjot Singh Sidhu, to take on the Prime Minister, especially with his “Sidhuisms” that often attract the youth.
“There are a number of rallies that have been planned in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh. In the past, we have analysed his rallies and people do get swayed,” said another Congress leader. “Sidhu will also electioneer in Rajasthan and it will surely help create a buzz as the campaign comes to an end.”
In Rajasthan, a Modi blitz as G-20 may disrupt campaign
The BJP, it seems, has saved the best for the last as Modi will address 10 rallies in Rajasthan, days before elections are held in the state on 7 December. The Prime Minister will also take part in the G-20 and will be away for a period of five days during the final leg of campaigning in Rajasthan.
“For five crucial days of campaigning, the PM will be in Argentina and that is why so many rallies have been planned in a short span of time,” said a senior BJP leader. “He will leave on 28 November and will be back on 2 December. We have planned two more rallies after his return.”
The Prime Minister’s first rally in Rajasthan was in Alwar on Sunday, and he has three more lined up at Bhilwara, Kota and Baneshwar Dham on 26 November.
The BJP had faced defeat in the Lok Sabha bypolls earlier this year in Alwar. Ramgarh, which is one of the constituencies of Alwar, was in news following the mob lynching of Akbar Khan on suspicions of cow smuggling in July this year.
“We have planned few more rallies in Nagaur and Bharatpur on 28 November, the same day when polling will be held in Madhya Pradesh,” said a senior BJP functionary from Rajasthan.
To counter the rallies by Modi, the Congress has also planned a series of rallies by Congress president Rahul Gandhi on 26 November. He will address public meetings in Ajmer, Jalore and Jodhpur.
The counting of votes for all five states will take place on 11 December.