Thursday, 2 May was quite an unusual day on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s calendar. He stayed put in Delhi.
In a departure from his routine since the election season took over the country, he did not hop from state to state holding three rallies a day.
But today he will be back to that punishing schedule. It is likely to remain so for most of the remaining days of campaigning that ends on 17 May 5 pm.
Whatever the results throw up on 23 May, one of the enduring images of campaign 2019 will be the pace Prime Minister Narendra Modi set for himself, rivalled by the campaign that candidate Modi mounted five years ago. In 2014 he was running a state government concurrently and this time a national government.
In around 125 days – from 25 December to 1 May — Modi has held 200 programmes across 27 states and Union Territories. Directed at the ongoing elections, these programmes, however, have been only a part of all the activities that Modi has been a part of in this period. He has chaired 14 Cabinet meetings in the interim.
This post on Narendra Modi's website gives an account of his campaign and how he has bèen juggling politics and administration.
Take for instance, the days of 25 and 26 February just two months ago. Modi delivered a keynote address at the inaugural of the two-day Rising India Summit 2019 of News18 at Taj Palace hotel. He left the venue around 9 pm on 25 February, six hours before the air strikes on Balakot. He remained awake throughout the night to keep himself abreast of the IAF operation to destroy Jaish-e-Mohammed terror camps at Balakot around 3 am on 26 February.
After congratulating all those involved in the operation around 4.30 am, he got busy with his next day’s schedule, including the meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Security at his residence around 10 am.
He then rushed to the Rashtrapati Bhawan, where President Ram Nath Kovind conferred the Gandhi Peace Prize. Soon thereafter, Modi flew to Rajasthan for a rally and returned to New Delhi and took a Metro ride from Khan Market to attend an event at ISKCON temple in the city.
"There can't be any substitute to Modi ji as PM. Our country needs an energetic, strong and vibrant leader like him. It's always easy to criticise ones work, but through his hard work and perseverance, Modiji has set an example before the young generation," says Atanu Das, a grocer in South Delhi.
In fact, Modi and the BJP president Amit Shah seem to have taken the wind out of the Opposition’s sails with their whirlwind election campaigning.
One of enduring images from the 2019 election campaign will be the sea of humanity that took to the streets to welcome their MP, Narendra Modi, when he landed in Varanasi to file his nomination papers. Slowly winding through the streets of the city, the juggernaut of the procession underscored yet again the strength of Modi’s grassroots connect.
His connect with the masses has always operated at several levels such as the Townhall programmes, Pariksha Pe Charcha through which he has connected with students, Main Bhi Chowkidar programmes that have touched the nationalistic chord among the voters, or the radio programme Mann Ki Baat that gets citizens in the remotest corners tuned in to listen to their leader.
"Whether one likes or dislikes Narendra Modi or many of his statements and ideas, what can't be ignored is his die-hard spirit and energy that he brings to his election campaigning, besides running the country simultaneously as prime minister," says Rajeev Bakshi, an engineer working with an ITES company in Noida.
But the Prime Minister is a multi-tasker who did not allow the approaching elections to cast any shadow on the ongoing work of the government, even though the country knew that polls would have been the top priority for all political leaders in the last year of the current government in power.
Two big successes for the nation that the PM oversaw just before the elections were announced were the Balakot air strike and the successful conduct of the Anti-Satellite Missile Test (A-SAT) on 27 February.
It’s quite clear that being on the go 24x7 and not showing any stress from it is one of the biggest assets that Modi takes to elections. That at 68 he can maintain a schedule over such a long time is a vote-catcher.
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Updated Date: May 04, 2019 14:10:14 IST