Posters and cutouts of Congress president Rahul Gandhi pouring water over a Shiva ling lined the roads of Bhopal on Monday ahead of the leader's scheduled visit to Madhya Pradesh. Known to be a bastion for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the Shivraj Singh Chouhan-led state is scheduled for its Assembly election later this year. Rahul is set to officially launch the election campaign in the state.
Posters by cadre have described Congress chief as a Shiva devotee. That apart, Rahul is expected to visit Hindu temples, take blessings of more than 11 Hindu priests before beginning a 15-kilometer-long roadshow, also called the Sankalp Yatra, from Lalghati Chowk, located close to the Bhopal airport.
Madhya Pradesh: Posters and cutouts of Congress President Rahul Gandhi and other party leaders seen in Bhopal ahead of his roadshow in the city today pic.twitter.com/3sjkEkgd55
— ANI (@ANI) September 17, 2018
According to reports, Rahul is planning to campaign extensively in all election-bound states with special focus on one-on-one interactions. According to News18, a nine-member core committee has chalked out Congress' key strategy ahead of upcoming polls. The idea is focus on propagating Narendra Modi government's failures on economic grounds. Apart from Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan and Mizoram have their scheduled Assembly election later this year.
Reports have said that Rahul will arrive in Bhopal at around 1 pm in the afternoon and is most likely to address party workers at 4 pm. Rahul's roadshow, in which he will ride an open vehicle, will conclude at Bharat Heavy Electricals Ltd's Dussehra Maidan, where he will interact with party cadres, he added. Rahul will spend an hour and a half, from 4 pm to 5.30 pm with the party workers, and leave for Delhi at 6.30 pm.
"A T-shape ramp has been constructed near the stage from where Rahul is going to take questions from party workers and interact with them," state party spokesperson Pankaj Chaturvedi told PTI. The Congress chief is going to address a meeting of Congress workers, which is open to public, before leaving in the evening, he added. "We are upbeat as our leader is coming to launch the election campaign," Chaturvedi said.
Ahead of the visit, the main Opposition party has put up posters and banners in Bhopal describing the 48-year-old Congress chief, who just returned from a pilgrimage to Kailash Mansarovar, as a 'Shiv bhakt'.
Ahead of Rahul's arrival, security has been tightened in the city, Bhopal Inspector General (IG) of Police Jaideep Prasad told PTI. "We have got an extra force of 1,500 policemen who have already been deputed," he said.
Asked about the possibility of protests during Rahul's visit, Prasad said they had not received any information in this regard. "All steps are being taken to maintain law and order. I am personally monitoring the security arrangements and the routes Rahul Gandhi is going to pass through," he said.
Congress workers are arriving from all over Madhya Pradesh to welcome the party chief and take part in the meeting. "We are expecting more than one lakh Congress cadres in the state capital," a police officer said.
Meanwhile a BJP leader said party chief Amit Shah and Prime Minister Narendra Modi will attend a function in Bhopal on 25 September. Earlier, a visit by Amit Shah to Ujjain on 12 September was called off.
"It was a tentative programme of Shahji that has been postponed as he along with Modi is going to grace a function on 25 September here," state BJP spokesperson Rajnish Agrawal said.
With inputs from PTI
Updated Date: Sep 17, 2018 12:09 PM