Narendra Modi is set to begin active election campaigning on Thursday with rallies in Meerut in Uttar Pradesh, Rudrapur in Uttarakhand and Jammu in Jammu and Kashmir. All three seats go to polls in the first phase on 11 April.
The prime minister will start his campaign trail by addressing a rally in Meerut at 11 am. He will then head to the Rudrapur district in neighbouring Uttarakhand, where his address is scheduled to begin at 1.15 pm. The Jammu rally is scheduled to be held at 5 pm.
The prime minister is not only the official face of the saffron pary's campaign but its star campaigner as well. In past elections too, Assembly and bypolls, various state units of BJP have relied on Modi's charisma and oratory skills to swing voters in its favour. In 2019, when the prime minister is going back to the electorate seeking a second term, his campaign trail is expected to be much more extensive as the party battles anti-incumbency, rising unemployment, and farm crisis. So, when Modi decided to launch his campaign from the politically important state of Uttar Pradesh, it was no surprise.
The Economic Times reported that the prime minister was camping in Meerut overnight along with Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath. The duo held marathon meeting with state leadership on the election strategy in the eight seats in Western Uttar Pradesh. Expect the prime minister to sound the poll bugle from Meerut and start his pitch on a strong note, as BJP is facing many Muslim candidates in the Western Uttar Pradesh region.
Modi's Rudrapur rally in the Udham Singh Nagar district will be his second in state ahead of the Lok Sabha polls. Modi had arrived in the city last month to address a Vijay Shankhnad rally at Rudrapur last but could not make it to the venue due to bad weather. He addressed the first rally in Udhampur town via mobile phone on 14 February, where he launched schemes worth Rs 3,400 crore to give a boost to the cooperative sector.
In Jammu, Avinash Rai Khanna, BJP national vice president, said the grand start of the party's election campaign in the region will start from Modi's 'Vijay Sankalp rally' scheduled to be held in the outskirts of Jammu city at the Doomi panchayat in Bhalwal. Modi will seek votes for the two Bharatiya Janata Party candidates — Jugal Kishore Sharma from Jammu and Jitendra Singh from Udhampur — who are seeking re-election.
The campaign, here again, is expected to be closely tied to the nationalism narrative. BJP's national general secretary Ram Madhav, who spoke to the media Wednesday, already set the tone by lashing out on National Conference leader Mohammad Akbar Lone for his alleged pro-Pakistan statement.
"What statements are they giving? Someone ( NC leader Lone) is saying Pakistan zindabad. This demonstrates the character of these regional parties. Some leader is saying that their party workers are the real 'mujahids' (militants). Is it the same militant who kills a 12-year-old? Who tries to rape young girls by forcibly entering their homes?" Madhav said. He demanded an FIR against Lone – a senior NC leader and a former speaker of the state Assembly.
"I want to ask the NC leadership whether they accept Lone's statement? We demand an FIR against Lone for talking anti-India like this and trying to provoke people. I appeal the people of Kashmir to vote wisely," he said.
With inputs from PTI
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Updated Date: Mar 28, 2019 09:41:07 IST