With the 80 seats of Uttar Pradesh expected to decide the course of the Lok Sabha polls, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will address at least 20 public meetings in the state, the focus being on constituencies he did not visit over the last five years, according to party leaders.
Uttar Pradesh votes in all seven phases of the April 11-May 19 elections.
The party’s state unit has prepared a list of places where Modi has visited and addressed the public as Prime Minister — Ghaziabad, Kanpur, Jhansi, Allahabad, Mirzapur, Gorakhpur and Amethi, among others — and also identified constituencies where his visit could make an impact on not only that particular seat but those around it. “Both lists have been sent to the party’s central leadership, which will give final shape to the PM’s campaign. Modi-ji is the BJP’s campaign face, and for his rallies, constituencies he could not visit in the last five years will be preferred,” a BJP leader associated with election management in UP said.
In the run-up to 2014 elections, Modi, the NDA’s Prime Minister candidate, had travelled 39,000 km across the state and addressed 79 meetings between September 15, 2013 and May 2014. The NDA had won 73 of UP’s 80 seats.
The Prime Minister visited the state on 15 occasions for different programmes since September 2018 until the model code of conduct was imposed on March 10, with multiple visits to Varanasi.
“There will be at least two public meetings of the PM in the first three phases. There will be more rallies in the last four phases,” the BJP leader said. “Depending upon necessity felt during different phases, more programmes could be added.”
Even as it waits for the party’s central leadership to give final shape to the campaign, the state unit has, meanwhile, started meetings and congregations of women, youths, OBCs, Scheduled Castes, and farmers in each constituency. The party will formally begin its election campaign on March 24 with a public meeting by Shah, along with Union minister Piyush Goyal, in Agra. As the party has denied tickets to sitting MPs of Agra and neighbouring Fatehpur Sikri, new candidates for both seats will be introduced to party workers at the rally, party leaders said.
Both constituencies go to the polls in the second phase on April 18. On March 24, UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath will launch his campaign from Shakumbhari Devi temple in Saharanpur and later address an election meeting in Mathura.
The opposition SP-BSP-RLD alliance in the state has announced that it will begin its campaign with a joint rally by the leaders of the three parties — Akhilesh Yadav, Mayawati and Ajit Singh, respectively — from Deoband in Saharanpur on April 7. Adityanath is scheduled to address rallies in Varanasi — Modi’s Lok Sabha constituency — on March 26, and in his home town, Gorakhpur, the same day.