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In faceless battle, BJP plans series of PM Modi rallies in UP

LUCKNOW: Prime Minister Narendra Modi is likely to make a trip to poll-bound Uttar Pradesh nearly once a fortnight over the next two months. As the BJP prepares for a crucial electoral battle without a chief ministerial candidate, the party is planning around eight Modi rallies in the state from October 24 to December 25.

To begin with, Modi will be launching a central government irrigation scheme—Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchai Yojna (PMKSY)—from Mahoba, which falls in the Bundelkhand region. Incidentally, at the beginning of the Lok Sabha election too Modi had addressed a rally at Jhansi, which also falls in the economically backward region.

Modi’s Mahoba rally would resonate the party’s development theme for the UP assembly elections, due early next year. The Modi government was also at the centre of a controversy relating to Bundelkhand earlier this year, with the ruling Samajwadi Party accusing it of playing politics by sending an “empty” water train to the region which was hit by drought. Railways minister Suresh Prabhu had rejected the charge saying a ten-wagon train was on the way to fill water at Jhansi.

Modi will be addressing a rally in Lucknow on December 25, former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s birthday. The BJP’s four yatras beginning from different places on November three will culminate at the state capital, from where Vajpayee was the Lok Sabha candidate.

The Prime Minister is expected to be covering every zone in the state ahead of the elections as the BJP aggressively projects him, banking heavily on the Modi regime’s flagship schemes. The party had swept the Lok Sabha elections in the state with Modi as Prime Ministerial candidate.

Meanwhile, Congress leader Rita Bahuguna, a Brahmin face, was likely to join the BJP, sources said. Though there was no official confirmation, they said she had already met some party leaders. The BJP is trying to consolidate its Brahmin vote in the state, where the Congress has put up Shiela Dikshit, a Brahmin, as its chief ministerial candidate. Bahuguna, an MLA from Lucknow Cantonment, is understood to have been peeved with the move.

Though the party is hoping to get the advantage of the surgical strikes across the LoC, a BJP leader said the main focus of the party will be on bringing change in the state, where the SP and BSP have ruled for the past 14 years.

This will also be the second time this month that Modi would be going to Uttar Pradesh. On Dussehra, Modi had addressed a rally from Lucknow, breaking the trend of Prime Ministers attending the celebrations in the Capital.

Meanwhile, the other four yatras in the state will begin from Sahranpur, Lalitpur, Ballia and Sonbhadra and pass through all 75 districts of the state.