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Why Modi’s schedule over the next 6 months will be extremely hectic

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Besides his trips abroad & campaign commitments, Modi will also be busy with visiting foreign leaders.

New Delhi: With the year-end assembly elections close at hand and the Lok Sabha polls about six months away, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has a fair bit of juggling to do ahead, balancing a hectic foreign schedule with an even more frenzied campaign season.

Back from a two-day Nepal trip, where he attended the BIMSTEC summit last week, PM Modi still has several key bilaterals/multilaterals lined up during his current term, with some others likely to come up in the course of time. This, combined with the fact that Modi is the BJP’s most important face and its trump card for poll campaigns, the PM is likely to have a feverish few months ahead.

Assembly elections to the four states are due in November and early December. The 2019 Lok Sabha polls, meanwhile, could be notified by early March.

Also read: Modi govt beats China in high-stakes battle over dam in Nepal

To begin with, Modi is scheduled to visit Japan for the annual India-Japan Summit at the end of October to discuss relations and progress in cooperation across sectors between the two countries. The summit last year was held in Modi’s home state Gujarat in September, with his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe attending it.

The PM will then visit Singapore to attend the crucial Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit, scheduled for 11-15 November. However, according to sources in the government, given his tight schedule, Modi is unlikely to attend all five days of the summit.

For the G20 meet on 30 November-1 December, Modi will make a trip to Buenos Aires, Argentina. Sources say the PM is likely to combine this visit with more state visits to some other South/Central American countries. The G20 summit, therefore, is likely to fall right in the middle of the crucial state polls.

Also read: BJP’s strategy for 2019 is the ‘There is no Alternative’ factor

It isn’t just his travels abroad that will keep the PM busy, but also that of visiting state heads. Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev will make his first state visit to India on 1 October. Russian President Vladimir Putin is due to arrive in India for the annual India-Russia summit, also in the first week of October.

During his meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) summit in June, Modi extended a visit to the Chinese President for an informal summit in India in 2019, which was accepted by Beijing. The two countries had their first informal summit in the Chinese city of Wuhan on 27-28 April.

There is no clarity yet on US President Donald Trump’s visit to India, but if it does materialise, it will add to the PM’s busy diplomatic calendar.

The BJP has a challenging electoral year ahead, defending incumbency in three state elections — Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, as well as in the Lok Sabha polls. Modi is known to carpet-bomb the party’s campaign with rallies just ahead of polls for the final push.

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