New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi will travel to Bihar to address a dozen election rallies during the assembly polls, many of them along with chief minister Nitish Kumar, in the seats being contested by the BJP as well as the JD (U), as per the schedule prepared by the party.
The BJP has identified grounds with the biggest capacity for the PM’s rallies considering social distancing norms as per the Covid-19 protocol. Each rally will be telecast at 100 other smaller grounds in 20 neighbouring constituencies by the BJP, making it a physical plus virtual election campaign.
The first set of PM’s rallies will be held on October 23 in Sasaram, Gaya, and Bhagalpur. Gaya’s Gandhi Maidan, whose capacity has been assessed at about 54,000 by district authorities, will be one of the venues and the airport ground in Bhagalpur, with 330,000 capacity, may be another venue, according to those in the know.
The eventual size of the crowd would be lesser given six-feet social distancing norm is to be followed but the BJP hopes the crowd will be as big as that at PM’s earlier rallies in Bihar, as thousands will watch each rally at 100 other locations in 20 constituencies.
Modi will campaign in phase-2 seats of Darbhanga, Muzaffarpur and Patna on October 28, the day votes will be cast in the first phase of the election. Patna’s Gandhi Maidan – where blasts had taken place in 2014 when Modi had held a rally there – is expected to be a venue. Modi will be next in Bihar on October 1 for rallies in Chhapra, Purvi Champaran and Samastipur, with the airport ground in Chhapra with a capacity of 240,000 people and Chand Stadium in Samastipur with a 43,000 capacity expected to be the venues. On October 3, when the phase-2 seats go to the polls, Modi will be in Bihar to campaign in the phase 3-seats of Paschimi Champaran, Saharsa and Araria.
The BJP deployed this strategy in earlier elections too, slotting the PM’s rallies for the next phase of election on the day of polling for the previous phase “to get maximum impact”, said party functionaries. The party expects the PM to strongly raise issues such as the development of Bihar under the BJP-JD(U) regime, the host of central packages given to the state, and corruption and lawlessness under the erstwhile RJD regime, and to stress on issues such as the Ram temple in Ayodhya and the army’s response to China.
ET was the first to report, on October 7, that the BJP’s Bihar unit had proposed nearly 20 physical rallies of the PM in the state after October 20, in a departure from the virtual campaign strategy followed so far. In the 2015 election, the PM had held 31 rallies in Bihar.
The final decision of holding a dozen rallies has been taken at the Centre keeping in mind the Covid-19 pandemic situation and needs of social distancing, along with the provision of covering other constituencies by parallel live screening of the PM’s rallies through LED screens and local candidates organising such screenings on the grounds in their constituencies. More than 500 grounds have been identified by district authorities that are usually used for public rallies and the capacity of each has been specified to the Election Commission.