Politically significant but lacking in development, Ballia in eastern Uttar Pradesh is witnessing heightened political activity with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav scheduled to visit the district in first two days of May.
Modi will reach Ballia on May 1 to launch Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY) under which free LPG connections will be provided to five crore families from the economically weaker sections of the society. He will also address a public meeting.
Akhilesh is unlikely to attend PM’s event and will, instead, reach the district on May 2 to address two public meetings and lay foundation stone of various development projects.
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While launching the PMUY, Modi will , in a symbolic gesture, hand over papers for new LPG connection to 10 women in Ballia. To ensure a gathering of more than two lakh for PM’s event, BJP and Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) workers have been moving in at least 10 Lok Sabha constituencies of Gorakhpur and Kashi regions inviting people. Giant pandals, covering an area of around 2 lakh square feet, are being erected at the venue to protect the gathering from scorching heat.
While several senior leaders will be reaching Ballia Thursday, Union Minister of State (Independent charge) for Petroleum and Natural Gas, Dharmendra Pradhan will camp in Ballia from April 29 to oversee the preparations.
BJP state secretary Dayashankar Singh, who is also in-charge for the programme, said they are expecting people from Ghazipur, Mau, Azamgarh, Jaunpur, Varanasi, Gorakhpur and Deoria districts for the event. “Village pradhans, members of block development committees and Zila Panchayats besides Asha Bahus and teachers have specially been invited as they could play significant role in ensuring that the scheme reaches genuine and needy families,” Singh said.
He said that Ballia is one of the backward districts of eastern UP where only 20-25 per cent households have LPG connections. “Just because PM is launching the PMUY from Ballia, officials of adjoining districts too have started preparations for distributing free LPG connections to BPL category people,” he said, while adding that Akhilesh planned his public meetings other programmes only after PM’s event was announced. .
Meanwhile, Samajwadi Party’s Ballia district president, Sangram Singh Yadav said CM will reach Ballia on May 2 to pay tributes to party leader Shardanand Anchal in Bairia area on his death anniversary. He will address a public meeting there. Later, the CM will visit the residence of state secretary of party’s youth wing Radheshyam Yadav for tea. From there, he will go to Ballia Assembly constituency to address another public meeting and lay foundation of a university, a sports college and several other projects for developing roads and bridges.
Sources said that university will be named after former PM Chandra Shekhar, who was born in the district and had made it his parliamentary constituency. His son Neeraj Shekhar is Rajya Sabha member of SP.
The ruling party has engaged senior leaders, including Ram Govind Chaudhary, Ambika Chaudhary and Narad Rai to look after preparations for CM’s public meetings.