Rally power propels Rahul, Modi in states
By Santwana Bhattacharya and Pratul Sharma | Express News Service - NEW DELHI
Published: 06th Oct 2013 07:58:39 AM
The voting schedule for five poll-bound states has just been announced, and the media is hyping them as “the semi-finals”. But the campaign plans and rallies of Narendra Modi and Rahul Gandhi are not being restricted to just these bellwether states. They seem to have their eyes set on the ultimate prize: 2014. For starters, October will see a direct duel between the two leaders—not in Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan or Delhi, but in politically volatile Uttar Pradesh, which is already in a painful run-up to the general election.
Rahul, seemingly with new wind in his sails after his public intervention on the convicted MPs ordinance, would be crossing swords with Modi in this heartland state. Rahul will arrive in UP on October 9, making two stops in close proximity to the western regions affected by the riots—Aligarh and Rampur. On October 22, he will return to Hamirpur, in Bundelkhand, and Salempur, which is far east.
Modi, one of whose first acts of preparing for 2014 was to send his lieutenant Amit Shah to oversee UP, will make his entry via Kanpur on October 19. Six days later, he will be in Jhansi, where he is expected to invoke nationalist symbolism around the town for TV audiences. He will return on November 8, with a deeper incursion into the state, visiting the minority-flavoured Bahraich in central Awadh.
However, the biggest noise from the Modi camp nowadays is about the hunkar rally in Patna on October 27, where he is planning to make a splash with his first foray in a state that was off-limits for him earlier, with NaMo tea stalls and other tactics making a direct pitch for the aam Bihari, with a special eye on Nitish Kumar’s economically backward communities (EBCs) vote-bank. After the September 29 Delhi rally, all eyes are on Modi’s next big show in Patna. If Delhi witnessed ‘Sinh ki garjana (Lion’s Roar)’, Patna’s Gandhi Maidan would be hear a hunkar (war-cry). The terminology was picked up by the local BJP unit to unveil their only national leader who could deliver on their dream of avenging the insult Bihar CM Nitish Kumar heaped on them by unceremoniously ejecting the 17-year-old ally of the government they built together.
With the hunkar rally, the BJP is hoping to convert the Bihar contest into a direct match with RJD, despite the fact that Lalu Prasad is incarcerated in Ranchi, and grappling with issues of legal and political survival. Many believe he called himself a tea vendor at the Delhi rally with an eye Nitish Kumar’s backward voters in Bihar. BJP leaders say, Modi’s past rallies have set a template for the states units to follow and create their own flavour. Unlike in Andhra Pradesh, in Bihar it is not a ticketed show. “We will not charge a penny, but we’ll insist on free online registration for people who want to attend his rally,’’ Nand Kishore Yadav, BJP’s Patna rally in-charge who is also the leader of opposition in said.
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