Tracking campaign data on Modi and Rahul: The message in battlegrounds, and hints on low priorities

For each public meeting by Gandhi, Modi has addressed more than two. The PM’s record also outshines Gandhi in key battleground states, such as Maharashtra, West Bengal and Bihar.

WrittenBy:Shivnarayan Rajpurohit& Sumedha Mittal
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Prime Minister Narendra Modi has addressed more than twice the number of public meetings than that of Congress leader Rahul Gandhi since the beginning of the NDA and INDIA poll campaigns, shows a Newslaundry analysis.

The NDA kicked off its campaign from Meerut while INDIA launched it from Delhi on March 31. The campaigning for the seven-phase polls concluded on Thursday.

Modi has held 151 public meetings compared with Gandhi’s 72 in these two months. Modi covered 20 states and four UTs against Gandhi’s 17 states and two UTs. The analysis is based on data from the Congress’s website and its press releases, and

In the 2019 polls, the two star campaigners had addressed almost an equal number of rallies. The BJP then won 303 seats against the Congress’s 52. 

UP in focus

In this election, the two leaders led the most number of meetings in Uttar Pradesh – the state with the highest number of constituencies at 80. 

In UP, home to his constituency Varanasi, the PM addressed 23 meetings. Gandhi attended 14. 

Most of Gandhi’s public meetings were concentrated in his family bastion Rae Bareli (5) and Amethi (1), which is held by BJP’s Smriti Irani. Gandhi is fighting from two constituencies: Wayanad in Kerala and Rae Bareli. He also addressed one rally in Modi’s home constituency Varanasi.

In contrast, Modi addressed only one public meeting in Varanasi and did not visit Amethi and Rae Bareli or the constituencies won by INDIA alliance partner Samajwadi Party in the last elections. 

Out of Modi’s 23 public meetings in Uttar Pradesh, 17 were in constituencies where a BJP candidate had won in the last general elections and one in Mirzapur constituency from where their alliance partner AD(S) is contesting. 

In 2019 Lok Sabha elections, the BJP led NDA had won 64 out of 80 constituencies. Congress had one seat, the BSP 10 and SP five. 

Modi held public meetings in Saharanpur, Amroha, Jaunpur, Lalganj, Shravasti, Ghazipur where BSP had won last time.

Battleground states

In key battleground states such as Maharashtra, West Bengal and Bihar, Modi’s record outshines Gandhi. The three states send 130 MPs to the Lok Sabha.

Modi visited 50 of these constituencies, roughly covering 38 percent of them. Gandhi held only four meetings each in Maharashtra and Bihar, where the Congress is fighting in alliance with its regional partners. 

West Bengal was missing from his itinerary. Other glaring misses were Assam, the other Northeastern states, Jammu and Kashmir, and Uttarakhand.

The gap in speeches and the constituencies revisited

In terms of public speech-free days, Gandhi’s had a higher share.

Modi did not address the audience for a total of six days against Gandhi’s 21 days between March 31 and May 30.

Another factor that burnishes Modi’s “industrious” credentials is the number of meetings held in one day. He addressed four or more meetings 17 times on a single day. There were only two days when Modi held one public meeting a day – on April 5 and May 14. 

In contrast, Gandhi had only one such four-meeting day: May 13 when he addressed all four in his home constituency Rae Bareli. There were only four dates in his calendar — May 27, 10, and April 24, 18 — when he addressed three meetings each. 

Gandhi repeated five constituencies. He made five speeches in Rae Bareli, three in New Delhi, and two each in Wayanad, Adilabad and Kozhikode. On the other hand, Modi did not revisit any constituency. 

Modi scores big in Bengal, Bihar and Maharashtra

Now let’s look at the states where both leaders held the most number of jan sabhas. 

After Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal was clearly Modi’s priority where he covered 19 constituencies, followed by 18 in Maharashtra and 13 in Bihar. 

Of the 19 in West Bengal, six were organised in constituencies won by TMC in the last elections, including Mahua Moitra’s Krishna Nagar constituency. 

Of the 18 in Maharashtra, one public meeting featuring Modi was held in Chandrapur, which was won by the Congress last time, and four others in strongholds of the undivided Shiv Sena and NCP – in Satara, Ramtek, Kolhapur and Kalyan.

Out of 13 public meetings in Bihar, seven were held in constituencies won by BJP in the last elections and three each in segments held by BJP’s allies LJP and JD(U). 

The southern priority and Manipur miss

There was a lot of talk about Modi’s focus on southern states, where the BJP is focussing to increase its vote share. He held eight in the battleground state of Karnataka, followed by five in Telangana, three each in Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh, and two in Kerala. 

Out of eight states in northeast India, Modi visited Assam and Tripura once each. He skipped the rest six, including violence-torn Manipur. 

Likewise, Jammu and Kashmir was low on the PM’s priority even as the BJP counts the abrogation of the erstwhile state’s special status as an achievement. Modi held only one public meeting in the BJP stronghold Udhampur. 

On the other hand, the big takeaway from Gandhi’s jan sabha itinerary is that he gave a miss to Assam and West Bengal, and held only one public meeting in Gujarat.

Besides Uttar Pradesh where he held 14 meetings, Gandhi largely invested his energy in small and mid-sized states in the south.   

He addressed seven public meetings in Kerala, followed by six in Delhi, and five each in Telangana, MP and Karnataka. Telangana and Karnataka are governed by the Congress.

In Kerala, he delivered two public speeches each in his home constituency Wayanad and Kozhikode.

The Wayanad MP held four meetings each in two states with 40 or more Lok Sabha seats: Maharashtra and Bihar.

He led three public meetings in Odisha; two each in Chhattisgarh, Haryana, Jharkhand, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Tamil Nadu; and one each in Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat and Daman and Diu.

In the states with two or fewer jan sabhas by Gandhi, five will largely see a bipolar contest between the BJP and Congress.

Study in contrast: Selection of seats for campaign

In the previous Lok Sabha polls, the BJP witnessed a narrow victory on 117 seats with a margin of less than 1 lakh votes. The Congress was the runner-up in 41 of these constituencies.

The NDA alliance had won a total of 353 seats, including BJP’s 303. 

The selection of constituencies for campaign by both leaders also presents a contrasting picture. 

While Modi attended 75 percent or 114 of his total 152 public meetings in constituencies where the BJP or its allies are the incumbent, 72 percent or 52 speeches of the total 72 were delivered by Gandhi in constituencies held by the NDA allies. 

Of Modi’s 114 speeches, 15 came in constituencies where the BJP and its allies won by fewer than 50,000 votes; 15 by 50,000 to 1 lakh; 33 by 1 to 2 lakh votes; 21 by 2 to 3 lakh votes; 21 by 2 to 4 lakh votes; and nine by over 4 lakh votes.  

Modi’s rest 37 speeches were delivered from constituencies held by INDIA alliance or non-NDA candidates. Of these, 12 meetings were held in seats won by less than 50,000 votes; 7 by 50,000 to 1 lakh votes; 12 by 1 to 2 lakh votes; 4 by 2 to 3 lakh votes; and 2 by more than 3 lakh votes.

For Gandhi, 52 (72 percent) of the total 72 meetings were held in Lok Sabha seats where INDIA alliance parties are out of power. 

Of these, seven were organised in constituencies won by the BJP and other non-INDIA alliance partners with a vote margin of fewer than 50,000 votes; seven with fewer than 1 lakh votes; 14 with 1 to 2 lakh margin; 11 with 2 to 3 lakh margin; 10 with 3 to 4 lakh margin; and 3 with 4 to 6 lakh margin.

The rest 20 speeches were made from constituencies won by the Congress or its INDIA alliance partners in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls. Ten of these public meetings were held in seats where the victory margin was less than 1 lakh and in the rest, the gap was more than that.

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