By Shishir Tripathi
A short nap on the flight is, perhaps, the only way you relax on a Sunday when you are a prime minister of a country like India; and a weekend with a luxury to watch an old Hrishikesh Mukherjee movie and listen to some soothing classic old numbers, with a cup of coffee, is certainly a distant dream.
A close look at Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s itinerary in the next few days makes it clear; it's a gruelling job.
When the PM lands at Varanasi’s Lal Bahadur Shastri Airport on the evening of 21 February, he would have just stepped into the fifth state in a day, having covered a distance of almost 2,800 kms (Delhi-Raipur-Bargarh-Kolkata-Varanasi) that includes eight hours either by plane or chopper and 3.5 hours on the road.
A six hour-long programme will be waiting for the Prime Minister with thousands of people waiting to meet him.
His visits to Chhattisgarh, Odisha and West Bengal are packed with seven programmes where he will interact with people from different walks of life. If as planned, he launches the National Rurban Mission in Chhattisgarh, then he will also attend a programme on providing housing, and inaugurate a human resource development centre and a centre for child health care in the state.
In Odisha, the rally he will address will be more political then the preceding ones; which means it will extract more energy from the Prime Minister. In Kolkata, the focus will be the centenary celebrations of the Math. From service to spirituality, health to housing and from rural infrastructure to HRD, the Prime Minister’s schedule will cover it all.
In each of these programmes, the prime minister will speak extempore. And yet, every speech is expected to have a different flavour and perspective on governance and policy making.
With so much energy, it is natural to ask what will the Prime Minister eat during this trip to keep him going? There are no fancy lunches and dinners in the programme; infact far from it. All his meals will be on board his aircraft: he'll have breakfast while on the way to Raipur and dinner on the way from Kolkata to Varanasi.
Meanwhile, he will have his lunch while riding a helicopter from Kurubhat in Chhattisgarh to Bargarh in Odisha. Anyone who has travelled in these helicopters can tell you it is not an easy ride.
In the midst of all this air travel and car trips, the Prime Minister will meet several people, including officials and dignitaries. Official briefing meetings will continue on the flight on every leg of the tour and later when he reaches Varanasi.
Wherever possible, the Prime Minister will also attend to important paperwork. Boxes of files will travel with him on the plane.
All these programmes and travelling happens on a Sunday, conventionally a day of rest, even in the power corridors of the government. But there is no relaxation for Narendra Modi.
On 22 February in Varanasi, the Prime Minister will meet constituents and be part of the centenary year convocation of the BHU. He returns to Delhi that afternoon to attend to his evening programmes and file work, and to get ready for the next day.