Indian Express

Anti-incumbency strong, Akali SOS to BJP: Send Modi

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The local leadership of the SAD-BJP has sent an SOS to the managers of Narendra Modi’s campaign, requesting more rallies by the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate.

Sources in the BJP said there is realisation that there is no visible Modi “wave” in the state, and that the Congress has managed to strike a chord with voters. There is also acknowledgment of massive anti-incumbency against the SAD-BJP government, seen in the disenchantment of even the SAD’s core voters, especially the Sikh peasantry.

Adding to the discomfiture of the ruling alliance is the growing impact of Aam Aadmi Party candidates in the four seats of Sangrur, Ludhiana, Patiala and Anandpur Sahib, where the SAD-BJP is expected to take a bigger hit than the Congress.

SAD-BJP sources said an urgent message was sent earlier this week to the BJP leadership, requesting that Modi, who is currently scheduled to address only two rallies — in Amritsar and Bathinda — before the April 30 vote, speak some more in the state.

BJP leader Arun Jaitley is locked in a fierce contest with former chief minister Capt Amarinder Singh in Amritsar, while in Bathinda, Harsimrat Kaur Badal, daughter-in-law of Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and wife of SAD president Sukhbir Singh Badal, faces a resurgent Manpreet Singh Badal of the Congress-PPP-CPI alliance.

“Yes, we have requested that (Narendra) Modiji address some more rallies in the state. He is the biggest vote catcher today. Things are still to be finalised, but we are hopeful that he will spare one full day for us,” Punjab BJP chief Kamal Sharma said.

Less than two weeks before polling, independent observers believe Congress has the upper hand in the state.

Sources in the BJP headquarters in New Delhi acknowledged that an “urgent request” had come from the state leadership asking for more Modi rallies.

“We have received requests from many states, including Punjab. But he (Modi) has a busy campaign schedule. We are trying to  accommodate as many requests as possible. Let us see,” said an officebearer, who declined to be identified.

Meanwhile, the SAD-BJP is stepping up the campaign to hardsell Modi to rural voters, and “inform” them of the likely “benefits” of a  Modi-led government in New Delhi. “A plan for a media campaign too has been chalked out, and it will be implemented by Monday,” a senior SAD leader said.

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