Acknowledged as a master orator by followers and political adversaries alike, Narendra Modi is poised to set a record ahead of the Bihar assembly elections: addressing around 40 rallies as the star campaigner of the BJP-led NDA – the most by any recent prime minister.
No prime minister before Modi has ever visited Bihar more than two-three times during assembly elections in the past.
Then prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee addressed a few rallies in the 2000 Bihar assembly polls while his successor Manmohan Singh addressed two or three rallies in the 2005 assembly elections, and a similar amount in the 2010 polls.
Modi was scheduled to stay at the Raj Bhavan here on Thursday night after addressing four rallies in Begusarai, Nawada, Samastipur and Munger districts. The prime minister will address two more rallies in Sasaram and Aurangabad on Friday.
Modi addressed four rallies in the state even before the announcement of the assembly polls in July and August, with two official visits during the same period.
After the Election Commission announced the dates for the assembly polls, Modi addressed his first formal election rally in Banka district on September 2.
“Even during campaigning for the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, when stakes were high for Modi, he returned to Gujarat by late evenings or night after addressing rallies in different parts of the country. He has never stayed back in the state where assembly polls have been held in the last one year. It would be interesting to know why Modi is so much desperate for Bihar polls,” said Anis Ankur, a socio-political analyst.
“Modi is taking no chances in the Bihar polls as his own credibility and the myth surrounding his charisma will be in doubt if the BJP suffers defeat,” pointed out Jai Prakash, a theatre activist.
Modi is not alone in trying to garner votes for the National Democratic Alliance. Half of his cabinet colleagues are camping in Bihar for campaigning. According to BJP leaders here, 13 of the 26 union ministers are in the state for campaigning.
Besides the BJP leaders, its sister organisations like the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, Vishva Hindu Parishad, Bajrang Dal and Durga Vahini are actively campaigning in the polls to mobilise votes for the BJP, if not its allies.
BJP leaders said it was for the first time that three RSS ‘pracharaks’ are among its 40 star campaigners for the elections.
An RSS leader from Jharkhand, Rajendra Singh, is even in the fray as a BJP candidate in Dina assembly constituency.
The BJP is contesting 160 assembly seats, its allies Lok Janshakti Party 40 seats, Rashtriya Lok Samata Party 23 seats and Hindustani Awami Morcha 20 seats.
The polling for the 243-member Bihar assembly will take place in five phases between October 12 and November 5, with the counting slated for November 8.