PM to address last rally, BJP hopes he strikes a chord | india | Hindustan Times
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PM to address last rally, BJP hopes he strikes a chord

BJP strategists nurse no great hope for the last, and hopefully biggest, show of them all ? Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee's rally at Pitampura on Saturday.

india Updated: Nov 27, 2003 11:53 IST

The BJP, desperately seeking crowds at its campaign meetings, may have to reconcile to waiting for another time — and election — in Delhi. Party strategists nurse no great hope for the last, and hopefully biggest, show of them all — Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee's rally at Pitampura on Saturday.

The reason: the PM is scheduled to speak at 3 p.m., just two hours from the campaign-end deadline. "We can't expect candidates from very many areas to pitch in with manpower and help. All candidates must focus their energies for a last burst of campaigning in their constituencies," BJP election campaign committee chairman V.K. Malhotra said.

It seems Vajpayee was initially scheduled to speak in Delhi on November 20 and 29. The first rallies, however, couldn't draw more than a 1,000 people at any of the venues. The fear of a repeat show, apart from a realisation of the potential problems of campaigning on the last day, persuaded the party to bring forward the November 29 rallies to the 24th.

However, the death of Union Minister Murasoli Maran forced the PM to cancel that rally. With the result that the BJP is back to square one — and November 29.

For the party, it's a bit of a fait accompli as well. "We realise that the crowd may not be very much bigger than what it has been so far," said a senior leader. "But we have no choice. Congress president Sonia Gandhi is certain to make many charges in her three speeches on Thursday. These can't be left unanswered."

For this, the BJP has its fingers crossed. "We hope to hear a vintage Vajpayee that day. So far a statesman-like Vajpayee has been speaking. The PM just needs to be himself and he will have the people eating out of his hands," said a leader.