It is going to be a hectic two weeks for Prime Minister Narendra Modi as he prepares to tour four of the five states going to polls over the next few months. With trademark speeches, multi-media campaigns, mega rallies, and a spate of inaugurations, he will be seen and heard reaching out to voters in West Bengal, Assam, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, and Puducherry, NDTV has learnt. While he has already begun visiting some of them in the run-up to polls, the following days will see him doubling down on efforts to capture votes for the BJP – sometimes even with multiple appearances in states like West Bengal.
The Election Commission is expected to announce the poll dates for these states in the first week of March. The BJP has timed the Prime Minister’s visits accordingly. In some of them, the BJP is looking to retain power; in others, to replace incumbent regimes. In yet others, the party will look to increase its hit rate and influence.
His first stop is going to be Kerala where he is set to inaugurate several development projects. While the BJP still has only a limited presence in the state – a single MLA in the state assembly – the party is keen on increasing its footprint. Only yesterday, it welcomed ‘Metro Man’ E Sreedharan into its fold, hoping to cash in on his popularity.
The octogenarian has expressed an interest in contesting the polls. It will be interesting to see if the BJP makes an exception for him from its policy of not allowing those above 75 years to contest polls.
The Prime Minister is then expected to address gatherings in West Bengal, though the bigger part of his campaign schedule in the state is set for the first week of March when he will hold a mega rally on March 7 at the iconic Brigade Ground in Kolkata.
The BJP hopes to replace Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress government in the state this time and has, over the past few months, invested considerable time and resources there. PM Modi himself has already visited West Bengal twice in the past few weeks, with other top BJP leaders like Amit Shah and JP Nadda making their own trips. The campaign in the state has till now been acrimonious, marked by violence and vitriolic speeches. The party has seen a huge number of leaders from rival outfits, especially the TMC, shift loyalties towards it.
On the first day of March, the Prime Minister plans to travel to Tamil Nadu, a state where his party has only marginal influence but would like to change things dramatically this time. He is expected to go all-guns-blazing against the opposition DMK and strike a cordial note with the ruling AIADMK, with which the BJP is in an alliance. The 2019 Lok Sabha polls saw this team perform poorly.
It is noteworthy that PM Modi has, over the past few months, regularly been quoting famous Tamil poets in many national and international speeches. This is being viewed as part of his attempt to move the voters of the state.
His presence in Tamil Nadu is also expected to sway voters in the Union Territory of Puducherry which has seen its own share of political drama involving Chief Minister V Narayanswamy and Lieutenant Governor Kiran Bedi who was removed from her post only on Tuesday.
The Prime Minister will then head for Assam, a state he has already visited twice in recent weeks. Besides meeting senior BJP functionaries and holding rallies, he is likely to unveil various projects there. The Bodoland Territorial Council election in December, which hardliner United People’s Party Liberal won in alliance with the BJP, was viewed as a semi-final ahead of the assembly polls.