Narendra Modi’s election campaign during the 2014 Lok Sabha polls was been an unprecedented one in terms of outreach and innovation and has changed the way India looks at campaigns forever. In fact, every party is going to study it and try to match up to its scale in future elections. When the history of this election is written, one thing that will stand out is how an inexhaustible Narendra Modi managed to get his message of development and good governance to people in every corner of the country either by holding a rally or finding some other way to transmit it. Never before in India’s electoral history has a campaign been undertaken with so much rigor and precision. Modi’s campaign has also been one of biggest mass mobilisation exercises seen anywhere in the world. The scale and intensity of the campaign is mindboggling.
Narenrdra Modi on his way to seek blessings of Maa Vaishno Devi before initiating Bharat Vijay rallies
Starting from 15th September 2013, when Narendra Modi addressed his 1st rally after being appointed the BJP’s PM candidate till 10th May 2014, when campaigning for the last phase ended, Narendra Modi addressed 440 historic rallies across India from Jammu to Kanyakumari, from Amreli to Arunachal Pradesh. From 15th March to 10th May he would have travelled almost 3 lakh kilometers! To that add the figure 1350, the number of rallies held through the 3D technology across the nation.
1,787 rallies and almost 3,00,000 kilometers! Have you heard of something so massive? For a simpler and clearer understanding of the subject we will divide the rallies in 3 distinct phases:1. Phase of preparatory mobilisation
2. 2013 Vidhan Sabha Elections and other rallies
3. Bharat Vijay Rallies post 26th March.
Preparatory Mobilisation: 38 mega rallies to set the ground
The juggernaut rolled out on the afternoon of September 15, 2013, when Narendra Modi addressed ex-servicemen at a historic rally in Rewari, Haryana. From then, till his rally in a land that is closely linked with Mahatma Gandhi and Acharya Vinoba Bhave, Wardha on March 20, Narendra Modi held 38 rallies to enthuse BJP workers as well as supporters.
These 38 rallies covered 21 states. In a historic first, Narendra Modi even covered states where the BJP is not known to be traditionally strong and the response in every location was electric. The locational spread of the rallies is as follows:
On an average, the rallies in the bigger states drew crowds of around 4 lakh. The crowds in the Northeast and Goa were also unprecedented. These 38 rallies were attended by almost one crore people!
Historic crowd at Hunkaar Rally, Patna
One rally that will remain etched in one’s memory forever is the Hunkar Rally on October 27, 2013 in Patna. While Narendra Modi addressed the crowd bombs were exploding on the grounds, but no one left. In his address, Narendra Modi’s message to the people was one of peace and unity.He said that Hindus and Muslims should together fight poverty instead of fighting among themselves. In the end he urged the crowd to disperse peacefully. This was a landmark moment and it convinced the people of Bihar and the rest of India that this was a leader who will face any risk, even on his life, for the sake of Bharat Mata.
Bharat Vijay Rallies: 200 rallies in 45 days
The Bharat Vijay Rallies began on the morning of March 26, 2014 from the scenic Jammu and Kashmir, where Narendra Modi addressed a large rally in Udhampur after paying his respects at the Vaishno Devi Temple. The Bharat Vijay rallies have spanned across over 25 states, covering 200venues. Again, Narendra Modi’s unwavering determination and energy is a factor that cannot be overlooked. No other leader would even undertake an operation of this scale.
The people’s response to the Bharat Vijay rallies was bordering on hysteria. Wherever he went chants of ‘Modi Modi Modi’ rent the air.
Unlike the earlier 38 rallies, these were held for a fixed target area for a Lok Sabha constituency so the average attendance was between 1 to 2 lakh people per rally. The number of people Narendra Modi would have reached out to through these rallies stands anywhere between 5 to 10 crore.
Road Show before Narendra Modi files nomination from Vadodara
Two programmes that stand out are the historic roadshows in Varanasi and Vadodara, when Narendra Modi filed his nomination papers. It was as if the entire town had converged on the streets to show their support to Narendra Modi. Everyone was amazed at the scale of the roadshows.
Other programmes, events and rallies
In addition to these rallies Narendra Modi joined several other rallies and programmes between September and March 2014. The number stands at 240.
These include 52 rallies in the four states of Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Delhi - that went to poll for its Assemblies in November and December 2013. The results were clearly in favour of the BJP. The party came to power with a historic mandate in Rajasthan, improved its tally in MP, retained power in Chhattisgarh and became the single largest party in Delhi.
Narendra Modi addresses “Bharat Vijay” rally in Jamshedpur
Other exclusive meetings included a range of events where Narendra Modi met lawyers, chartered accountants, cultural icons and presented cultural awards. It should be noted that despite being announced as the PM candidate till the Model Code of Conduct was announced, Narendra Modi continued to chair all Cabinet meetings, attended Assembly sessions in his state of Gujarat and was involved in the presentation of the state budget as well.
Pioneer of technology: 3D and Chai Pe Charcha
History was been scripted in this campaign by the manner in which Narendra Modi used technology and innovation to reach out to people.
The most prominent example of this was his 3D rallies. First used in Gujarat, albeit on a smaller scale, the 3D rallies were a way to connect with people in multiple places where he could not visit.
Historic Bharat Vijay 3D rallies
From April 11 to 30, several rounds of 3D rallies were held covering 750 locations - from Kashmir to Kerala and from Maharashtra to Assam. Those who attended the 3D rallies said it was an experience of a lifetime.
The other innovation was seen during Chai Pe Charcha. Over a cup of tea, Narendra Modi interacted with people across India on issues ranging from agriculture to women empowerment. The Charchas were held across 4,000 locations in 24 states. Internationally too these sessions were held across 50 locations in 15 countries. Almost 10 lakh people participated.
Discussing development over cups of tea: Chai Pe Charcha
Why the Modi rallies stand out?
Everywhere he went, Narendra Modi presented a unique vision that the people of the area could relate to. His vision helped him connectwith the people, and they saw in him a man who can deliver good governance and development. An example of this was his visits to the Northeast. The BJP has never had a strong presence in this region. Narendra Modi visited the Northeast several times and addressed many rallies across the region. There, he rightly described the region as the ‘Ashta Lakshmi’ that will play an important role in India’s development. He addressed issues such as corruption, scope for tourism, fake encounters in Manipur, illegal refugees from Bangladeshis and the issue of persecuted Bangladeshi Hindus that most parties shy away from addressing. In Arunachal Pradesh he gave a sent out a message to China over the border issue.
Narendra Modi showed his strong commitment to the speedy development of the hill states of Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh through tourism and ensuring development funds reach the people its meant for. An out of the box idea that emerged of forming councils with similar states, such as a council of hill states or a council of coastal states, consisting of the PM and the respective CMs. These councils can ensure the smallest issue be addressed effectively. In the same way Narendra Modi is firm on his commitment to develop the South as well as East India.
It has long been a belief in India that people have to be paid to attend political rallies, but Narendra Modi has shown this theory is incorrect. Not only did he not pay people to attend, he charged them a small entrance fee, the proceeds of which went towards relief work for the Uttarakhand tragedy! In Trichy, police caught youngsters searching for empty alcohol bottles a day after the rally but the youngsters told them that for the first time not a single bottle was found! Infact, the BJP doing a rally in Trichy was also a historic feat in itself.
Mesmerizing the South: At the rally in Visakhapatnam
In UP and Bihar the rallies were double storied! It was not uncommon to see several people climbing on top of the polls to get a better view of Modi.
Through the campaign, Narendra Modi has given countless interviews to the print, electronic and local media. The list includes ‘Aap Ki Adalat’ on India TV, interview with Zee News, ABP Ghoshna Patra as well as Times Now. He had an elaborate interview with ANI where he talked about politics, policy and foreign relations.
In the people’s court of a different kind: Aap Ki Adalat with Rajat Sharma
Newspapers such as Hindustan Times, Hindustan, Jagran and The Economic Times have had interviews with Narendra Modi. In an interview with CNBC TV-18 he listed out his comprehensive economic vision that will script India’s recovery. Regional networks such as ETV, TV9 have interviewed Narendra Modi as well. At the same time local papers in West Bengal, Tamil Nadu and Gujarat among others have interviewed Modi too.
India has never seen such a wide and diverse outreach programme in the past.Narendra Modi’s day would begin at 5 am and sometimes end past midnight. These words by Narendra Modi perfectly sum up his routineand determination, “दौड़ रहा हूँ, जनता का प्यार दौड़ा रहा है। न थका हूँ, न रुका हूँ और देश विरोधी ताकतों के सामने झुकने कातो सवाल ही नहीं”
( I am running, the affection of the people is making me run. There is no question of getting tired or stopping and bowing to anti-national forces simply does not arise.)