Uttar Pradesh is heading for a weekend of rallies that will involve the top leaders of the BJP, the Congress and the AAP, apart from the state’s own Samajwadi Party and BSP. The rallies will be put up on LED screens, telecast live on the parties’ websites, and filmed by crews from Mumbai.
Rahul Gandhi will formally launch his election campaign in UP Friday. Strategically, the Congress has included a visit to the dargah of sufi saint Haji Waris Ali Shah at Dewa in Barabanki and a darshan at Kashi Vishwanath temple in Varanasi. The programme includes a road show from Dewa to Lucknow, nearly 40 km, chaupals with anganwadi workers and midday meal cooks in Lucknow, and one with rickshaw pullers in Varanasi. The two-day schedule concludes with a Sadbhavna Youth Rally in Mirzapur Saturday.
Narendra Modi will address a Vijay Shankhnad Maha Rally at Ramabai Ambedkar Maidan in Lucknow Sunday. His UP campaign has already seen seven rallies and the BJP claims to have mobilised nearly 15 lakh workers for Lucknow, more than the ground can accommodate. The party has booked 29 trains, including seven from Gorakhpur region.
The Samajwadi Party, trying to project itself as the main opponent to the BJP, has announced a Desh Banao Desh Bachao rally at Allahabad Sunday. It will be fourth time a Mulayam Singh Yadav rally will coincide with one of Modi in UP, and the 10th for Mulayam since October 29 in Azamgarh. “Our previous rallies have outnumbered Modi’s in crowd strength. The Allahabad rally will break all records,” says Rajendra Choudhary, SP state spokesperson.
BJP spokesperson Chandra Mohan, for his part, mocks the SP rally: “They misuse government machinery while in our rally people come of their own. There is no competition.”
The AAP rally is at Rail Bazar Ground in Kanpur Sunday, with Arvind Kejriwal. A 500 km road show from Delhi will take him to Kanpur. The party has seven candidates in UP.
Aruna Singh, Awadh zone convener for the AAP, alleges there is tacit understanding between Mulayam and Modi for polarising votes on religious lines. “It will be the best time for us. All three rallies will be evaluated by people. We engage in issue-based politics and Kejriwal will expose the nexus of communalism among (other) political parties,” she says.
The BSP, having organised a large rally in Lucknow on January 15, will now focus on public meetings at local level. General secretary Satish Chandra Mishra is crisscrossing the state and will address a public meeting in Bahraich Saturday.