IN THE last dash for votes in the tight and high-voltage Assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh, at least 19 Union ministers visited Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Lok Sabha seat Varanasi and nearby areas that will go to polls in the final phase on Thursday. Home Minister Rajnath Singh, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, Information and Broadcasting Minister M Venkaiah Naidu, Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari, Health Minister J P Nadda, Water Resources Minister Uma Bharti and Textiles Minister Smriti Irani were among those who were in Varanasi for election management and canvassing over the last few days.
There are 13 ministers in the central government who have won their elections from UP, which sent 71 BJP MPs and two of its allies in the last Lok Sabha polls. However, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, who is a Rajya Sabha member from Uttar Pradesh, was not visible in the campaign in the eastern part of the state.
Others like Nadda and Minister of State for Power Piyush Goyal spent most of the last couple of weeks in Varanasi, ahead of Modi’s three road shows in the constituency.
Nadda left Delhi for Varanasi on February 20 and returned only on Monday. He made a few trips to Delhi in the interim but has been focused on campaigns first in Uttarakhand and then in Uttar Pradesh for more than a month now. His junior minister Anupriya Patel, of BJP-ally Apna Dal, has been camping in Uttar Pradesh since February 12. She is due to be back in Delhi only on Wednesday.
Patel, who represents Mirzapur, very close to Varanasi, made just one trip to Delhi in all this time.
Besides campaigning, ministers have also met and addressed specific groups on subjects related to their ministries. Jaitley had a meeting with traders and spoke to them about the demonetisation decision of the government. Nadda met a group of doctors while Smriti Irani addressed women’s groups.
Rajnath Singh has visited most of the 40 Assembly seats that are going to polls in the last phase. He has so far addressed 102 election rallies, travelling almost 20,000 km over 50 districts in 26 days.
Among the ministers who campaigned for the last phase are: Home Minister Rajnath Singh; Finance Minister Arun Jaitley; I&B Minister M Venkaiah Naidu; Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari; Health Minister J P Nadda; Agriculture Minister Radhamohan Singh; Law Minister Ravishankar Prasad; Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar; Water Resources Minister Uma Bharti; MSME Minister Kalraj Mishra; Textile Minister Smriti Irani; MoS Power Piyush Goyal; MoS Finance Santosh Gangwar; MoS Health Anupriya Patel; MoS HRD Mahendra Nath Pandey; MoS Culture Mahesh Sharma; MoS Food Processing Industries Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti; MoS Railways Manoj Sinha and MoS External Affairs V K Singh.