AK-49 jibe to poll-day selfie: top 20 Modi moments this poll season | india | Hindustan Times
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AK-49 jibe to poll-day selfie: top 20 Modi moments this poll season

Narendra Modi's selfie of his ink-marked finger holding a miniature lotus cut-out may have been among the top trending items on Twitter but it also resulted in two FIRs against him. Here are the top 20 Modi moments from this election season.

india Updated: May 16, 2014 20:47 IST
HT Correspondent

Modi takes digital democracy by storm with poll-day selfie
Narendra Modi's selfie of his ink-marked finger holding a miniature lotus cut-out may have been among the top trending items on Twitter but it also resulted in two FIRs against the BJP prime ministerial candidate on April 30.

On the election commission's orders, the Gujarat Police booked Modi not only for flashing the BJP symbol after casting his ballot in Ahmedabad, but also for making a "political speech" before the media.

Acting on a Congress complaint, the EC directed the state government to register a case against Modi after examining a videotape of the media event. It said the Gujarat strongman had violated the Representation of People's Act, 1951 and the EC's own direction not to campaign in polling areas.

To Congress' citadel and back: Modi's day out in Amethi
Modi on May 5 broke an unwritten code, that of staying off political rival's turf, by taking the poll battle to Gandhi family's power seat Amethi and declaring he would begin building India from this constituency once in power.

In a speech laced with aggression and sarcasm, Modi called Amethi UP's "worst-performing district", challenged Rahul Gandhi and his "entire family" to a public debate with BJP candidate Smriti Irani, "exposed the family's politics of anger", and mocked political pundits and the media.

Modi kept the focus on Amethi's lack of development, despite its "40-year association with the rajparivar". "I decided to send her (Irani) to the most backward district in UP, and discovered it was Amethi," Modi said.

Off air, but DD couldn't keep interview bits from breaking loose
Modi recently expressed concern that public broadcaster Doordarshan was struggling to maintain its professional freedom after Prasar Bharati CEO Jawhar Sircar acknowledged that certain portions of the BJP PM nominee's interview to the state broadcaster "were apparently edited".

Sircar, in the letter to the Prasar Bharati board, also pointed a finger at information and broadcasting minister Manish Tewari for failing to grant the public broadcaster "operational autonomy" that it has been seeking for years.

The BJP later released the full interview. In the video, Modi was heard saying he will not be angry even if Priyanka Gandhi hurls a hundred curses at him. Many reports had earlier stated that he told the channel that Priyanka was like his daughter.

BJP's prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi addresses an election rally in Motihari. (PTI Photo)

Modi bares caste card after Priyanka's onslaught
A day before Amethi went to polls along with 63 other seats spread across seven states, Modi once again trained his guns on the Gandhi family, invoking his "backward class" status in response to Priyanka Gandhi Vadra's "neech rajniti" (low-level politics) remarks aimed at him.

"As I belong to a socially backward caste, they consider my politics of a low level," Modi said in series of tweets. It drew an immediate response from the Congress, which called him a "spinmaster" and "desperate" and said Priyanka's remarks had no caste reference. She had made the remarks in response to Modi's speech in Amethi where he had accused her father and former PM Rajiv Gandhi of insulting a former Andhra Pradesh chief minister.

Farewell, rumour mills: Modi makes Varanasi dip official
Putting a lid on endless speculation and squabbling, the BJP late on March 15 announced that Modi would contest the Lok Sabha polls from Varanasi. The party took this step on the belief that it would boost the party's prospects not just in UP but in neighbouring Bihar as well.

"With blessings of Ganga Mata & Kashi Vishwanath, let us work towards success of Mission272+ & create a strong, vibrant & prosperous India… Grateful to the Party for giving me opportunity to contest the election from the holy city of Varanasi! An honour to contest from Varanasi," Modi tweeted.

A marathon session of the BJP's central election committee that went late into the night also cleared the names of party chief Rajnath Singh from Lucknow, Arun Jaitley — making his electoral debut — from Amritsar and Varun Gandhi from Sultanpur instead of Pilibhit, which went to his mother Maneka.

Watch video: Decoding Narendra Modi's poll blitzkrieg?

After V for Varanasi, BJP spells V for Vadodara for Modi
After Varanasi, it was Vadodara for Modi, while party patriarch LK Advani was fielded from Gandhinagar despite expressing a sudden "desire" to move to Bhopal.

The run-up to the announcement of Modi's candidature from Gujarat was dramatic with Advani skipping the party's election committee meeting amid reports of his insistence on fighting from outside Gujarat.

After the election committee meeting, senior leaders Sushma Swaraj and Nitin Gadkari drove to Advani's residence to persuade him to accept the party's decision of fielding him Gandhinagar.

The announcement of Modi's second seat followed days of speculation that he could be fielded either from Ahmedabad East or Vadodara. His decision to contest from Gujarat was attributed to pressure from the state unit to help maximise the party's tally from there.

A vendor arranges masks of BJP leader Narendra Modi at his shop in Ranchi, the capital of Jharkhand. (PTI photo)

Inside story of BJP manifesto: What Modi wanted, got done
Narendra Modi wanted a to-do list to carry into the Prime Minister's Office in South Block if the BJP got the numbers to form a government at the Centre on May 16. What better way to do so than by redrafting the party's election manifesto to read like one? That's exactly what Modi told his party colleagues.

He reasoned that the people expected the government to work from day one as the response at all his rallies made clear. So, instead of the traditional document, he felt a manifesto that brimmed with "specifics and actionable items" would better convey the BJP's "sincere intentions" to usher in change.

Modi conveyed this to Murli Manohar Joshi, the head of the BJP manifesto committee. Joshi and his aides swung into action and re-worked what was earlier collated "painstakingly".

A close aide of the BJP's prime ministerial candidate said that Joshi's willingness to modify the initial draft along Modi's suggestions contradicted media reports that differences between the two held up the manifesto's release. The manifesto was released on April 7, the first day of polling in the staggered Lok Sabha elections.

No smooth sailing for NaMo chai after EC ban
'NaMo tea' saw its share of trouble this election season. The BJP's ambitious voter-connect programme, 'chai pe charcha', was stopped by the Election Commission (EC) from distributing free tea at its 'NaMo stalls' since it 'amounted to bribery'.

"Anything that is being distributed for free by a political party during election will be construed as an attempt to entice voters, something that is not allowed," said Umesh Sinha, the chief election officer in UP. Poll officers were told to take action under the IPC if a stall was caught distributing free tea.

BJP workers in Lakimpur Kheri were also booked by UP election officers for distributing free tea. Later in Madhya Pradesh, a NaMo tea stall was stopped by poll officers after a complaint by Congress leaders.

Guns blazing, Modi calls Kejriwal Pak agent 'AK-49'
Narendra Modi on March 26 called Arvind Kejriwal a Pakistani agent — his first direct attack on the AAP chief who a day earlier made formal his decision to take on the BJP's PM candidate from Varanasi.

Three AKs — AK-47, AK Antony and AK-49 (Arvind Kejriwal) — had emerged as Pakistan commanders on the Indian side, Modi said at a poll rally in Jammu's Hiranagar, barely 5km from Pakistan border.

Modi tears into Sonia's 'secularism', son-in-law Vadra
April 3 was the national capital region's date with Narendra Modi as he attacked the Congress and the Gandhi family in back-to-back rallies in Ghaziabad and Gurgaon.

Accusing the Congress of shifting to "rabid communalism" for votes, a reference to Sonia Gandhi's meeting with the shahi imam of Delhi's Jama Masjid, Modi also unleashed a flurry of innuendos at her son Rahul and son-in-law Robert Vadra while also bringing up the issue of cattle slaughter.

"They were troubled as there is no smell of communalism in what Modi is saying... They don't know how to deal with me. Sensing defeat, they have dropped the slogan of secularism and started rabid communalism. The Congress leader has started speaking the language of rabid communalism," Modi told nearly 30,000 people near Shipra Mall in Indirapuram, Ghaziabad. "For the Congress, secularism is just an election plank. It refutes my talk of development by bringing up secularism."

Modi's promise: Won't be vindictive if I come to power
Modi has said a government under him would not be "vindictive". Having suffered for 12 years due to vindictive politics, he said, he wouldn't do the same to others — an oblique reference to charges levelled at him in connection with the 2002 riots.

The remarks came in the backdrop of some BJP leaders, such as Uma Bharti, threatening Congress chief Sonia Gandhi's son-in-law Robert Vadra with arrest if the NDA came to power. At his public meetings, Modi has been unsparing in his criticism of Vadra for "dubious" land deals.

School childeren wearing BJP leader Narendra Modi's masks in Allahabad. Modi has led Gujarat since 2002 and has pitched his achievements here to get votes across India. (PTI photo)

Exhibit No 2 of 'soft Modi': 'Pains when people say I'm bigger than party'
Modi on April 22 debunked accusations of a personality cult around him, insisting that remarks that he had grown bigger than the party caused him "a lot of pain".

"I have always maintained that a son can never grow to be bigger than the mother," Modi told HT in an email interview. He stressed that the BJP, too, had to "evolve" according to the changing times, needs and the aspirations of the people.

Modi criticised his opponents for stoking fear and communalising the elections in the name of secularism. "I'm proud that we have changed that. They are no longer able to do so. Hence this 'Stop Modi Project'. They fear the change that is coming," he said.

A city of river, Varanasi turns into sea of saffron with Modi visit
On April 24, a day when well over 100 million voters decided the fates of several political heavyweights, only someone with the star power of Narendra Modi could steal the show by doing something as mundane as filing his nomination papers.

This the BJP's prime ministerial candidate did to great effect in Varanasi, attracting television cameras like a magnet and leaving rivals fuming at the ease with which the BJP had captured headlines yet again.

A sea of locals wearing saffron caps went berserk the moment their poster boy arrived at the filing venue in an open motorised NaMo chariot.

Modi vs Rest: When the battles got a notch uglier
When the Lok Sabha elections were in the final lap, the torrent of vitriol flew unchecked in the name of electioneering.

Bare-knuckle fight for votes intensified toward the end. Modi took on Rahul Gandhi on April 28, hit back at Union minister Farooq Abdullah, while coming under heavy fire from both the leaders as well as West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee.

The discourse got bitter, personal and shriller by the day, but no one seemed to care.

EC blind to rigging, says Modi, dares it to book him
A combative Modi recently took on the poll panel for failing to check "rigging and violence" in Bengal, Bihar and UP, daring it to take action against him and also tore into CM Mamata Banerjee over "illegal Bangladeshi migrants".

"Why are you (election commission) not acting? What is your intention? If you feel wrong about what I am saying now, then you are free to lodge another case against me," Modi said in the industrial town of Asansol. Later in Delhi, the BJP said Modi had merely made a suggestion to the EC.

The Gujarat CM, who had two FIRs against him for election code violations, was referring to complaints lodged by the opposition Left Front, Congress and the BJP after nine Bengal seats went to the polls on April 30. "There was so much rigging... This kind of game cannot be allowed to go on," Modi told an impressive crowd.

All leading opinion surveys believe Narendra Modi is set to become PM as they projected BJP-led NDA to breach the majority mark in Lok Sabha. (AFP Photo)

BJP vs EC again after Modi's Varanasi rally blocked
The Varanasi administration on May 7 refused permission for a rally by Modi in Varanasi's Beniyabagh area, which has a sizeable Muslim population, on May 8.

Accusing the EC of being a "mute spectator" to returning officer Pranjal Yadav's "highly partisan" role in denying permission for the rally, the BJP demanded his immediate removal. Senior leader Arun Jaitley also sat on a dharna outside the Banaras Hindu University on May 8.

In a strong rebuttal, the EC said it did not accept any "insinuation or inaction" in this regard and would take action against the officer if he was found guilty of "partisan" behaviour. "The commission is getting all facts about Varanasi and will do everything under the law and its mandate to conduct free and fair polls," it said in a rare statement.

Modi finds workaround, turns 30-minute Varanasi drive to 3-hour 'roadshow'
The BJP mounted an all-out attack on the EC on May 8 over the denial of permission to hold the rally in Varanasi's Beniyabagh. Leading the charge, Modi said: "Let the EC do as many unlawful things as it wants to. Let it stop me from holding a rally… but let me make it clear that irrespective of what it says or does, apparently at the behest of the powers that be, Modi can't be stopped."

The EC said it was "not afraid of anyone, any political party or any entity" and upheld the decision to refuse Modi permission to hold a rally in Muslimdominated Beniyabagh as one based on "professional advice".

Addressing a rally in Rohaniya area, a second venue for which permission was granted by the district administration, Modi said: "The EC is trying to stop me after the mother-son government at the Centre and the father-son government in UP failed against me."

Later, he set out on a roadshow to demand the removal of returning officer Pranjal Yadav, taking over three hours to cover the 5 km distance from Banaras Hindu University (BHU) to the BJP office — even bumping into an AAP procession led by a bike-riding Gul Panag.

After bitter campaign, Modi says time for healing, reviving bipartisanship
With the heat and dust of elections over, Narendra Modi on May 12 said it was time to resurrect the spirit of bipartisanship in Indian politics which was temporarily lost in the poll campaign.

"This is the right time to look ahead. It is a time to connect with each other. Lets place people over politics, hope over despair, healing over hurting, inclusion over exclusion and development over divisiveness. "It is natural for the spirit of bi-partisanship to get temporarily lost in the midst of an election campaign but now is the time to resurrect it," Modi said in his blog at the end of polling today, bringing the curtains down on the long election process. Admitting that this has been a hard-fought election which witnessed both joyous and heated moments, BJP's prime ministerial candidate said, "Now is the time to put the heat and dust of campaign behind and look ahead.

Modi clocks over 3 lakh km in election frenzy
As the campaign for the Lok Sabha elections ended on May 10, Modi seemed to have created a record of sorts by travelling over three lakh km and holding 5,827 public meetings, mixing traditional methods of holding rallies with innovative use of technology, the party claimed.

Termed by the BJP as "one of the largest" mass outreach in India's electoral history, Modi addressed 437 public meetings in 25 states besides 1,350 3D rallies since September 15, when he held his public rally after being declared as the party's Prime Ministerial candidate.

Exit polls: Enter Modi, the BJP's PM pick
Exit polls on May 12 put Modi on course to be India's next prime minister, with his BJP-led NDA predicted to get past the 272-mark — the simple majority needed in the 543-member lower house to form the government. The Congress was looking at its worst tally of below 100.

Most polls showed the BJP's gain in seats rode on a rising vote share, overtaking that of the Congress for the first time. For instance, the CNN-IBN poll put the BJP's vote share at 34%, up 20 percentage points, against Congress' 25.5%.

Full coverage: My India My Vote