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Modi Begins Two-day Meditation at Dhyan Mandapam

Modi Begins Two-day Meditation at Dhyan Mandapam

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Manas Dasgupta

NEW DELHI, May 30: The Prime Minister Narendra Modi reached Kanniyakumari on Thursday evening to begin his meditation after 82 days of gruelling campaigning stretched across length and breadth of the country to ensure a third term for his BJP in the Lok Sabha elections.

According to sources in the Prime Minister’s Office, the marathon campaign saw Mr Modi address 206 public outreach programmes including rallies and roadshows often in searing, record-breaking heat. He also gave over 80 exclusive interviews to a cross section of the media organisations. The prime minister surpassed his nearly 145 public engagements on the stump during the 2019 polls by a big margin. The campaign period this time was of 76 days, compared to the 68 days in the polls held five years ago.

Upon his arrival at Kanniyakumari, the prime minister first offered prayers at the Bhagavathy Amman Temple in the city. Mr Modi will meditate from the evening of Thursday to the evening of June 1 at Dhyan Mandapam, the place where revered Hindu philosopher Swami Vivekananda is believed to have had a divine vision about ‘Bharat Mata.’

For the BJP, the challenge during this campaign came largely from within. The heat and party workers’ complacency over the BJP’s prospects of winning the polls contributed to low voter turnout, something that party leaders, including the Prime Minister, warned against throughout the campaign.

Early on in the campaign, the BJP faced a backlash after Uttara Kannada MP Anant Hegde said the party’s slogan of getting more than 400 Lok Sabha seats was important as “big constitutional changes” required a two-thirds majority. This statement was widely interpreted as a bid to change the Constitution of India to remove reservations. “Two phases of polls demonstrated that this issue was gaining traction on the ground and had to be countered. Which is why you saw Prime Minister Modi declare that the BJP had no intention of ending reservations,” a senior party leader said.

To nullify its impact, Mr Modi launched a counter-attack claiming that the Congress-led INDIA bloc was planning to change the constitution to provide for religion-based reservation to Muslims. It also attacked the opposition for their “minority appeasement” politics, claiming that the Opposition party’s manifesto indicated that it was open to reservations on “Muslim quota” though the Congress manifesto did not say this.

It was not all big rallies and narrative building, the BJP also worked for micro management through the union home minister Amit Shah and other party strategists. It was also very aggressive in the eastern states of West Bengal and Odisha, where its approach was a departure from its earlier attitude towards the State’s ruling party, the Biju Janata Dal. “We expect the party to do well in both States and there is a surge for the BJP in Odisha that people in Delhi cannot read,” said a senior office-bearer of the party involved in the State’s affairs.

As the campaign wrapped up, Mr Modi returned to Kanniyakumari in Tamil Nadu from where he had launched the BJP campaign on March 16. Over 2,000 police personnel have been posted around the memorial to ensure the PM’s security, and the Coast Guard and the Navy will also maintain vigil.

Campaigning for the last phase of the Lok Sabha in 57 constituencies in seven states and union territory of Chandigarh ended at 5 pm on Thursday. The PM’s meditation plan has also sparked a political row. The Congress had complained to the Election Commission of India on Wednesday that the Prime Minister was trying to “circumvent” the silence period restrictions and wanted it to ensure that visuals of him meditating are not aired by the media as that would violate the model code of conduct.

The Tamil Nadu unit of the CPM also wrote to the Chief Election Commissioner asking for a ban on the telecast of visuals of PM Modi meditating as it could become “propaganda material” defeating the purpose of the silence period and the concept of a level playing field. Stating that meditation is a private thing, the party alleged that, in this case, a tacit attempt is being made to influence voters.

Addressing a crowd at a Kolkata roadshow today, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee hit out at the Prime Minister and said, “The chair of the PM is valuable and it has constitutional responsibilities. They don’t care about it. Every time before counting, he sits somewhere to gain publicity for 48 hours. He may meditate, but why in the presence of cameras?”

The BJP has hit back and said the INDIA alliance’s opposition to the PM’s meditation plan betrays its ‘anti-Sanatan mindset.’ “If someone wants to go for meditation, that too when the election campaign ends on May 30, because that person took inspiration from Swami Vivekananda, why is the Congress party calling it a violation of the Model Code of Conduct (MCC)?” BJP National Spokesperson Shehzad Poonawalla said. The ECI, however, has not taken any decision on the Congress objections to the media glare of Mr Modi’s meditation.





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