Yet the busy Wednesday was crucial not just for this reason. It was also a day when 117 seats across India were going to vote and Modi's arrival in Varanasi was supposed to be a litmus test as to whether the Modi tsunami that has often been talked about is for real or not. But as has always been the case with Modi till now, if one is to measure by today's impact, he had the last laugh here as well.
The Master Stroke
The massive success of the road show of Narendra Modi during which he travelled on an open truck amid a swarm of people across the length and breadth of the route was a clear indication of the wave that has become synonymous with India's quest for change. The saffron wave through the hundreds of thousands of party flag and caps was a clear indication of the mood of the city which, even the media could not deny.
Even some of the media houses who have never been too kind to Modi had to grudgingly accept that this kind of road show for any candidate going merely for filing nomination is unprecedented. And while some of them were quick to term it as an orchestrated one, they had to also concede that there is a limit to how much one can organise and gather people and one cannot orchestrate enthusiasm which mostly comes spontaneously. If there was one thing that defined Modi's Varanasi rally, it was the spontaneous enthusiasm of people, which can never be orchestrated.
Today's impact and the mood of the lakhs of people accompanying him was a spontaneous one. Another important question which most of the Modi-baiters fail to answer is that if it is all about orchestrating an event then why is it that the rest of the parties have consistently failed to match up with such turnout and rallies, thereby vindicating that the anti-incumbency as well as the pro-modi wave cannot be ignored at all.
If there was any iota of doubt in the minds of the hardcore critics as to which side the wind is blowing, then today's road show has perhaps put to rest all of that doubt. Yet the masterstroke of the rally is not just about the success of it but the visible impact it had on a day when 117 constituencies were voting across India.
The massive television coverage of Modi's nomination road-show spanning across several hours was bound to have positive impact in terms making at least a portion of the undecided voters today getting impressed by saffron wave in the television channels and eventually voting for BJP and its allies. The considerable increase in the voter turnout, although cannot be attributed to one road-show only, but at the same time cannot be denied that the television coverage might have had some impact.
A Rattled Congress says something and does something opposite...
Even though the Congress spokespersons were trying hard to impress upon themselves and their supporters that there is no Modi wave and that it was orchestrated, yet so rattled were they by the grand success of the roadshow that the party filed a complaint with the Election Commission for the continuous television coverage of the event as a violation of model code of conduct even though Congress forgot that a similar road show on a polling day was done by Rahul agndhi when he went to file his nomination from Amethi.
Modi's Fine Touch-
Incidentally Modi's attempt to reach out to the people from different communities and his pledge to bring about a paradigm change in Varanasi's development was evident from the manner in which he started his tour in Varanasi by garlanding iconic figures like Dr Madan Mohan Malviya, the founder of Benaras Hindu University, Sardar vallabh Patel, Swami Vivekanand and Dr Ambedkar.
The symbolic choice has a clear signal towards Modi's endeavour to not just bring in development but also to take along all the sections of the society as well as making Varanasi the spiritual hub of the world. His special mention of how he plans to help the weaving community of Varanasi, most of whom are Muslims, his example of how he helped the kite makers of Gujarat ( who too are Muslims) and his conscious attempt not to overtly show any Hindutva appeal but rather echo a nationalistic appeal is also a reflection of his attempt to make development based nationalism the core theme of his election campaign as has been for the last so many months.
Modi's mention of bringing a structural change in Varanasi through cleansing of river Ganges and replicating the successful Sabarmati River Front project in Varanasi was a combination of both developmental theme as well as soft appeal of spirituality since river Ganges and Varanasi have major places in the hearts and minds of crores of Hindus as well as people from other communities.
Is Congress now Completely on Backfoot?
Over the last couple of days if Congress was attempting to up the ante with Priyanka Gandhi raking issues of snoopgate as well as Congress trying to portray Modi as an outsider in Varanasi, today's road show by Modi, which was essentially a show of strength, has trashed it all and shown who is the real front runner and clear favorite in this election.. A hasty attempt of the Congress to showcase Rahul Gandhi's road show in Lucknow could not match anyway the success of Modi's act in Varanasi.
Even then many of the hardcore critics have been trying to give a cynical picture in most of the television debates by stating that one needs to see if this would eventually convert to votes, but couldn't justify the massive increase in voter turnout that is already happening across India, a part of which has to be surely attributed to the Modi factor.
While Jharkhand recorded a 63% voter turnout, Madhya Pradesh recorded an impressive 64% turnout whereas Tamil Nadu and West Bengal had impressive turnouts of 73% and 82% respectively. Uttar Pradesh too saw a record of sort with a 58.58% turnout whereas Rajasthan recorded more than 59% turnout and Maharashtra around 55%. Thus the trend of higher voter turnout in this election continuous.
While election results are still good three weeks away and a few more phases of elections clearly to go, one cannot deny the fact that the momentum for the moment is with Modi and his greatest success has not just been the massive wave of people in his rallies but also a significant increase in the proportion of people exercising their voting rights this time. This itself is a victory of democracy.
Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan's tweet, ‘Millions thronging the streets of Varanasi. Those who get the certificate of TIME should see what the city of The Timeless is hinting at', a clear jibe at Arvind Kejriwal said it all. One cannot blame if Kejriwal ended up having a sleepless Wednesday night.