New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Congress chief Rahul Gandhi addressed more than 140 rallies each in the seven-phase Lok Sabha elections, the opposition leader scoring a tad better in terms of voter outreach by also holding eight press conferences.
Modi addressed 142 rallies and Gandhi 145 in the fiercely contested elections that saw both leaders totting up many thousand miles as they crisscrossed the length and breadth of the country in a bid to reach out to the maximum number of people. Both leaders covered all the states in the elections that began on April 11 and ended on May 19 with Modi flying over 1.5 lakh kilometres, his party said. The votes will be counted on Thursday.
Modi, the main campaigner for the BJP, was supported by party chief Amit Shah, while Gandhi was aided by his sister and Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, who also campaigned in many parts of the country. Ending the 2019 poll campaign with a press conference, Shah said Modi braved scorching temperatures of up to 46 degrees Celsius. There was hardly any part of the country the prime minister did not visit, he added. Modi accompanied Shah at the presser, but deflected questions saying he is a "disciplined party soldier" and the party chief is supreme for him.
The BJP president said the campaign started on March 28, 2019 from Meerut in Uttar Pradesh and the prime minister addressed 142 public rallies, held four roadshows and, according to conservative estimates, directly addressed about 1.5 crore people. Modi ended the campaign with a speech in Khargone, Madhya Pradesh, on May 17.
"Modi's campaign involved air travel of around 1.5 lakh kilometres," Shah said. "Since Independence, the most hardworking, extensive election campaign was this one and Modi's outreach was unprecedented," he said. Shah said he himself visited 312 Lok Sabha constituencies and addressed 161 public rallies in this election. He claimed he travelled 1.58 lakh kilometres and held 18 roadshows.
The Congress said its president addressed 145 poll rallies, eight press briefings and five road shows. He started with a joint public meeting in the Bihar capital Patna on February 3 and ended in Solan, Himachal Pradesh, on May 17.
The campaign culminated with a press conference in Delhi. "You must have seen that I have improved with press conferences. You've seen that? Now, how do you think I have improved, who made me improve? What do you think? You made me improve. So it is because I come here and I do press conferences in front of you...," Gandhi said, thanking media persons.
In 2014, Rahul Gandhi was party vice president and did not lead the campaign. Modi, however, addressed more than double the number of rallies that year.
"History will remember the 2014 elections as historic and marking a paradigm shift from conventional electioneering," Modi had said after the 2014 poll campaign.
Shah had later stated that BJP's prime ministerial candidate addressed 437 big rallies, participated in 5,827 public interface events and travelled over three lakh kilometres across 25 states in his attempt "to connect himself to the people everywhere".
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