In an apparent attempt to take on the Opposition that is uniting ahead of Lok Sabha polls, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is set to address four public meetings and launch several infrastructure development projects in different districts of Uttar Pradesh in a short span of 16 days this month.
This comes after the Prime Minister addressed two public meetings in the state in the past two months. The Prime Minister would be making more visits to Uttar Pradesh this month than the Assembly poll-bound states of Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan.
Modi’s upcoming visit to the state is slated for July 14 when he will reach Azamgarh to lay foundation stone for Purvanchal Expressway. The visit is significant, considering that Azamgarh is the parliamentary constituency of SP patron Mulayam Singh Yadav. The SP-BSP alliance cost the BJP Lok Sabha seats and one Assembly segment in the bypolls. At the rally in Azamgarh, Modi may target the SP-BSP alliance.
From Azamgarh, he will move to his Lok Sabha constituency Varanasi to address an “intellectuals’ meet” the same day. Sources said he will stay in Varanasi for the night and meet BJP leaders the next morning before leaving for the adjoining Mirzapur district. Mirzapur is represented in Lok Sabha by Union Minister and Apna Dal (S) patron Anupriya Patel.
In Mirzapur, the Prime Minister will dedicate to people the Bansagar irrigation project aimed at benefiting farmers. He will also inaugurate a bridge across the Ganga in Chunar and lay foundation stones of a medical college and a 229-crore project of widening the Mirzapur-Allahabad national highway. BJP sources said leaders of BJP and Apna Dal from adjoining districts of Bhadohi, Varanasi, Chandauli, Allahabad and Sonbhadra will attend the event. Apna Dal (S) president Ashish Singh Patel, too, said MLAs and senior leaders of the two parties will be invited.
The BJP joined hands with Apna Dal in Uttar Pradesh in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections and the 2017 Assembly polls. Apna Dal contested on two Lok Sabha seats in 2014 and won both. The party enjoys the support of OBCs in eastern UP where the BJP had entered an alliance with another party, Suheldeo Bharatiya Samaj Party (SBSP) in 2014. The SBSP too claims support among the OBCs.
Sources said Modi’s visit to the Apna Dal stronghold holds importance because the BJP is uncertain about the future of its alliance with SBSP — SBSP president Om Prakash Rajbhar, a cabinet minister in Uttar Pradesh government, has spoken out against the government several times.
After Mirzapur, Modi is likely to visit Shahjahanpur on July 21 to address a Kisan Kalyan rally. Union Minister Krishna Raj is MP from Shahjahanpur. The BJP Tuesday decided to hold Kisan Sammelans in all rural Assembly segments in UP before July 20 to highlight the Centre’s decision of increasing the MSP of paddy and other crops.
The BJP has given charge of the Shahjahanpur rally to its state vice-presidents B L Verma and Purushottam Khandelwal. Verma told The Indian Express that the rally will send a message about steps taken by the Centre for farmers’ economic empowerment. Farmers from Pilibhit, Badaun, Nareilly, Mainpuri, Etah, Aligarh, Firozabad are likely to attend the rally.
State BJP chief Mahendra Nath Pandey has said in a statement that the PM will be visiting UP in the coming days with the message of development and farmers’ welfare.
Sources said Modi will also visit Lucknow on July 29 to attend events related to infrastructure and projects worth Rs 60,000 crore are likely to launched.