New Delhi: After more than a two-month long high-pitched election season, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Congress president Rahul Gandhi concluded their campaigns with rallies in Madhya Pradesh and Himachal Pradesh, respectively, as the campaigning for the last phase of the 2019 lok Sabha elections ended on Friday.
Between March 11, when the the Model Code of Conduct (MCC) came into effect after the announcement of polling schedule, and May 17, PM Modi addressed 144 rallies across 25 states and 2 Union Territories (UTs) traveling 1,05,000 Kms. During the same period, Rahul Gandhi addressed 128 public meetings spread across 23 states and 2 Union Territories of the country.
While PM Modi outperforms Rahul Gandhi by 16 rallies, it is notable that his first rally, after the elections were announced, was held only on March 28 in Meerut. In effect, Modi addressed 16 more public meetings than Rahul Gandhi and even took 18 fewer days than the latter to achieve the feat.
These figures also include a few road-shows which PM Modi and the Congress president held across the country.
Among the states visited, both the leaders addressed the highest number of rallies in Uttar Pradesh, which sends 80 legislators to Parliament. PM Modi, who addressed 29 rallies in UP, campaigned the most for the party in the state in the last phase, where 13 seats will go to polls on Sunday in the BJP’s traditional stronghold of Purvanchal region. Out of his 29 rallies, eight of PM Modi’s rallies in UP were held between May 11 and May 16.
On the other hand, Congress president Rahul Gandhi addressed 19 rallies in the state, of which six were only in his own constituency Amethi and two each were addressed in Rae Bareli, Sultanpur and Barabanki. Unlike PM Modi, 11 of Gandhi’s rallies were addressed between April 22 and April 27 and were concentrated around Amethi and Rae Bareli in the Awadh region, where Congress is hoping to make gains. Gandhi did not address any rally in the Purvanchal region barring one in Kushi Nagar on May 16, which was his first in the state in 12 days.
Rahul’s hiatus from UP was due to him travelling across MP where he addressed 17 rallies this election season – second highest number after UP. Gandhi also addressed 12 rallies in Rajasthan.
The Congress recently came back to power in both these states and an extra focus from the Congress president on these states indicates that the party wants to hold on to its gains from the Assembly elections.
For the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), political analysts have been speculating that the party may lose out on a significant number of seats in the Hindi-heartland and therefore, is looking east – Northeastern states, West Bengal and Odisha – to make up for these losses. In light of this, West Bengal witnessed the second highest number of rallies (17) by PM Modi followed by eight each in Odisha and the North-Eastern states.
In contrast, in the three Hindi-heartland states–Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh–where the BJP lost power six months prior to the general elections, PM Modi addressed a total 20 rallies compared tyo Gandhi’s 31. Similarly, the Gandhi scion addressed just 11 rallies in West Bengal, Odisha and North-East combined where PM Modi and BJP focused more as mentioned above.
Apart from this, there were hardly any instances where campaigning was held in constituencies with its neighbouring constituencies voting on the same day or in the very next phase, except for states witnessing multiphased polling. One of the very few of such incidents was when PM Modi addressed two rallies in Northern Karnataka’s Chikkodi and Bagalkot on the same day – April 18 – when voting was underway in 14 southern Karnataka constituencies. Gandhi also addressed a rally in Chikkodi on the same day.
Interestingly, each one of Modi’s 144 rallies were held in separate constituencies, while Rahul Gandhi campaigned multiple times in a number of constituencies including Amethi and Wayanad from where the Congress president was himself in the fray.
Places skipped by both PM Modi and Gandhi include all the UTs except Delhi and Chandigarh, and states of Meghalaya, Mizoram, and Sikkim. Other than this, while PM Modi missed Nagaland, Gandhi did not campaign in Goa, Jammu & Kashmir, and Tripura.