With the crucial assembly polls in Uttar Pradesh just around the corner, the BJP’s grassroot level cadre in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Lok Sabha constituency here shall be looking forward to receiving from him the mantra for electoral success during his tour of the ancient temple town tomorrow. Interaction with nearly 20,000 booth-level party workers at the Diesel Locmotive Works (DLW) premises forms a major part of the Prime Minister’s itinerary.
Modi’s visit, which could be the last to his parliamentary constituency before the poll schedule is announced and the Model Code of Conduct comes into force, also includes flagging off of quite a few projects.
These include laying of foundation stones for a cancer centre and a super-speciality hospital at the Benares Hindu University where Modi will also spend some time at the “Rashtriya Sanskriti Mahotsav” (national cultural festival), a week-long event organized by the Union Ministry for Culture where artistes from across the country, some of them of international repute, have been performing.
From BHU premises, Modi will leave for a brief tour of Kabir Nagar locality, named after the 17th century mystic and poet, and inspect underground cabling and heritage lighting work, which is being carried out as part of the IPDS (Integrated Power Development Scheme) and HRIDAY (Heritage City Development and Augmentation Yojana) schemes.
Thereafter the Prime Minister will reach DLW, where his political engagements will be preceded by laying of foundation stone for a 150-bed ESIC (Employee’s State Insurance Corporation) super speciality hospital and inauguration of a trade facilitation centre and a crafts museum besides launching of a number of schemes and projects under the Textiles Ministry.
This would be Modi’s first tour of his parliamentary constituency since demonetisation of Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes, that has drawn much flak from the opposition as the shortage of currency caused inconvenience to traders, salaried groups, artisans and unskilled daily wage earners alike.
The PM’s message to the booth-level workers of the BJP, drawn from all five assembly segments falling under the Lok Sabha constituency, will set the tone for the party foot soldiers faced with a daunting task of holding their own in a state where politics has been dominated by two rival regional players -– the ruling Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party.
From being a force to reckon with in the state in the 1990s, thanks to the momentum generated by the Ramjanmabhoomi agitation, the BJP underwent a steep decline in the first decade of the century.
However, expectations have been high since the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, when the party stunned all by putting up its best-ever performance, winning 71 out of the 78 seats it had contested in the state.
The spectacular comeback owed much to Modi’s decision to step out of Gujarat and contest from this eastern UP seat. The party’s performance in the assembly polls in the state — which is the most populous and hence sends maximum number of MPs to the Lok Sabha — will have a bearing on its future prospects on the national level.
This will be Modi’s ninth tour of Varanasi since he became the Prime Minister in May, 2014.
Significantly, tomorrow’s visit will also be his fifth since January this year. The increased frequency of his trips here is seen as one of the many efforts being made by the BJP to improve its tally in the 403-strong UP assembly where it has less than 50 MLAs.