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PM Narendra Modi's Two-Day Nepal Visit Has a Karnataka Election Angle

Nepal's Pashupati Nath is one of the holiest shrines of Lord Shiva. Lingayats in Karnataka also worship the Linga. The symbolism of PM Modi offering prayers at the Jyotirlinga in Pashupati Nath will not be lost on the Lingayat voters of Karnataka.

Zakka Jacob | CNN-News18

Updated:May 11, 2018, 11:39 AM IST
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New Delhi: A day before Karnataka votes in the crucial assembly elections, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will embark on a two-day official visit to Nepal on Friday.

On Day 1 of his visit, PM Modi is expected to announce a direct bus route between Ayodhya and Janakpur, believed to be the birth places of Ram and Sita. He will also offer prayers at Janakpur’s Janaki Mandir.

The Prime Minister is also scheduled to visit Muktinath and Pashupati Nath and offer prayers at both those temples on Saturday, the day when Karnataka votes. The temple hopping in a foreign land will not be lost on the electorate of Karnataka, as television channels will be cutting to these images live and on polling day.

Pashupati Nath is one of the holiest shrines of Lord Shiva. Lingayats in Karnataka also worship the Linga, some of them wear it as a sign of belief around their necks. The symbolism of Modi offering prayers at the Jyotirlinga in Pashupati Nath will not be lost on the Lingayat voters of Karnataka.

Modi has a sense of timing about these things. On the day Gujarat voted, he took a roadshow outside the polling booth which was carried live by TV channels. It may have had an impact on the last minute, undecided voters. A day before the Gujarat elections, he rode on the seaplane. The television spectacle of it could have potentially influenced some voters.

Even in 2014, on the day some parts of India were voting, Modi undertook a major roadshow in Varanasi, before filing his nomination papers. “Maa Ganga ne mujhe bulaya hai”, those famous words were etched all over TV channels and newspapers and helped set a narrative for the general elections.

Foreign policy has never really had an influence on domestic elections in India, but Modi seems to be rewriting the rules. He constantly invoked the surgical strikes during the Karnataka campaign.

In the Gujarat poll, he also spoke about looking China directly in the eye during the Doklam standoff. Other political parties are going to find it extremely difficult to match Modi’s ability at creating spectacle out of events and his sense of political timing about these events.

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| Edited by: Sumedha Kirti
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