Prime Minister Narendra Modi is set for an aggressive campaign trail in Bihar, averaging one rally every two days in the crucial poll-bound state over the next month.
The BJP’s star campaigner, whose goodwill wave catapulted the party to power in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, will start the exhaustive second leg of his Bihar campaign with a rally in Banka, a district bordering Jharkhand, on October 2.
In all, Modi could address nearly 20 public meetings during the five-phase elections where canvassing ends on November 3.
The initial suggestion was that the Prime Minister hold a rally in each of the state’s nine divisions. But the BJP more than doubled the number of rallies to make the most of what it called “Modi magic” in the high-stakes battle for Bihar, which is set to determine the BJP’s ambitions to expand its national footprint and the NDA government’s push for economic reforms.
“His previous rallies drew large crowds and tremendous response. The party wants him to spend a good number of days in Bihar to canvass for candidates. He has left it to the party to decide the number of rallies and we are in the last stage of finalising it,” a senior BJP leader said.
He said Modi would address multiple rallies every time he flies into the state, given time constraints as he has official engagements.
This would be the first assembly election in Bihar to witness such an intense involvement of a Prime Minister.
The party is carefully choosing venues for Modi rallies to create the “desired impact” on voters of that region. The 38 districts in Bihar are bracketed into nine divisions and his rallies will touch all of them.
Before the announcement of poll dates on September 9, he addressed packed rallies in Muzaffarpur, Gaya, Ara, Saharsa and Bhagalpur. The turnout reinforced the BJP’s faith in “Modi magic”.
Feedback from RSS and BJP workers, coupled with an assessment of ground realities, had prompted the party to announce its candidates without waiting for the list of the Nitish Kumar-led grand alliance.
It had earlier planned to give tickets to a large number of rebel candidates in areas where the BJP never contested in the past 17 years when it was an ally of the JD(U). But a midway assessment indicted that there was enough goodwill for Modi and the BJP to seek first mover’s advantage.
“Our campaign will reach its peak next week. We will shock our rivals with the scale and spread of our campaign. It will also impress the electorate, particularly floating voters. The PM is certainly central to all these,” a BJP functionary said in Delhi.