From Congress-Ruled Punjab, PM Modi Begins 100-Rally Programme

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Tomorrow the PM will hold rallies in Manipur, a state won by the regional MNF (File)

New Delhi:

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will have a hectic schedule over the coming weeks – holding 100 rallies across the nation to set the tone for the general elections. The rallies will be held before the elections, due by May, are announced, sources said. A beginning was made at Gurdaspur in Congress-ruled Punjab today. After the rally, the Prime Minister is expected to be back in Delhi, where he will attend a crucial party meeting.

The rallies will be held across 20 states, many of them not ruled by the BJP. Tomorrow the PM will hold rallies in Manipur, a state won by the regional Manipur National Front; on January 5, he will hold rallies in BJP-ruled Jharkhand and Naveen Patnaik's Odisha. The rally for January 22 will be in Varanasi, his parliamentary constituency.

The party meet this evening, which Amit Shah is also expected to attend along with PM Modi, will focus on the election results in the three heartland states – Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan.

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Last month, the BJP had met its worst defeat in Chhattisgarh at the hands of the Congress. While the party has ruled Chhattisgarh for three consecutive terms, its leaders said they was not expecting a defeat, since Raman Singh was considered one of its more popular Chief Ministers.

Individual leaders of the BJP have indicated that the results in Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan were not entirely unexpected. The voters of Rajasthan have a revolving door policy – no incumbent government has been re-elected in the last 30 years. In Madhya Pradesh, the party had ruled for three consecutive terms and there was anti-incumbency.

Asked about the assembly election results in an interview by ANI earlier this week, PM Modi said in Telangana and Mizoram, "nobody gave BJP any chance or even thought that we would form government".

"In Chhattisgarh, a clear mandate was given, BJP lost. But in 2 states there was a hung assembly. Secondly, 15 years of anti-incumbency was being fought by our people. We are discussing what was lacking," he added.

Looking ahead, this evening's meet is also expected to focus on names for the leaders of opposition in the three states.

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