While Narendra Modis three Vijay Shankhnad rallies in UP so far have witnessed a sizeable crowd,maintaining the same turnout at his Agra rally Thursday would be a challenge for the BJP.
Reason: Samajwadi Party (SP) president Mulayam Singh Yadav addresses a rally on the same day in Muslim-dominated Bareilly,around 220 km from Agra.
The crowd was around one lakh in Modis rallies held in Kanpur and Bahraich,and more than 80,000 in Jhansi. A similar turnout was seen in SPs recent rallies at Azamgarh and Mainpuri.
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BJP is said to be worried about the crowd given that the Agra rally is in Braj region an SP stronghold. Moreover,the SP has made arrangements to ferry workers from Aligarh and other districts of that region to Bareilly for its rally. Mulayams Lok Sabha constituency Mainpuri also falls in Braj region and his nephew Akshay Yadav is partys Lok Sabha candidate from nearby Firozabad.
If the crowd in Modis rally is going to be less than Mulayams public meeting,it will reflect the latters wider acceptance in public in UP as compared to Modi, said a BJP leader.
BJP and SP,both,are making preparations to attract a crowd of more than five lakh in their rallies.
From BJP,former chief minister Kalyan Singh reached Agra today two days before the rally.
The Braj region comprises eight Lok Sabha and 40 Assembly constituencies. BJP has only one MP from Agra and three MLAs in that region. Kalyan Singh,who is MP from Etah,has returned to BJP and exercises considerable influence in Agra,Firozabad,Aligarh and Kasganj districts as well.
BJP state president Laxmikant Bajpai denied any comparison between BJP
and SPs rallies and said Modis will be organised by the public while the state machinery was being used for SPs rally.
Bajpai added the party will hold the biggest rally in Agras history. But,sources said,party has engaged leaders of other regions,apart from local leaders of Braj region,to mobilise crowd,
Party state vice-presidents Shiv Pratap Shukla and Ashutosh Tandon,general secretaries Devendra Singh Chauhan and Swatantra Dev Singh are agoing about appealing the public to attend Modis rally.
Shukla belongs to Gorakhpur region,Chauhan hails from Kashi while Swatantra Dev Singh belongs to Bundelkhand region. Ashutosh is son of Lucknow MP Lalji Tandon and belongs to Lucknow.
BJP and SP have also begun taking out bike rallies and holding nukkad meetings in Agra and Bareilly,respectively,to invite people to their rallies.
The BJP has directed Agra local unit to ensure participation of at least 15,00 people from each of the 50 wards falling within three-km area of the rally ground where movement of vehicles would be restricted on Thursday.
In Bareilly,SPs senior party leaders,including tourism minister Om Prakash Singh,recently visited the Islamia Inter college ground that party has chosen for the rally. Mulayams nephew and Badaun MP Dharmendra Yadav is the convener of the rally and he is camping there to supervise the rally preparations.
Cabinet minister and SP spokesperson Rajendra Chudhary said,The SPs rally will be more successful as it will see the participation of the poor,Muslims and farmers. These sections of society are absent in BJPs rallies and only the workers of RSS,Vishwa Hindu Parishad and Bajrang Dal are part of the crowd there.
The BJP is putting up a sketch of young Narendra Modi selling tea at a railway platform on display during a two-day exhibition on the ‘life-journey of partys prime ministerial candidate to attract ordinary and poor to his Agra rally.
Along with the issues of corruption and price rise against the Congress,both parties would speak against each other, said a SP leader.