BJP president Amit Shah may have termed the ruling Samajwadi Party the one to beat in the coming Uttar Pradesh elections but that is not stopping him and Prime Minister Narendra Modi from trying to make inroads into the Gandhi family bastions of Amethi and Rae Bareilly.
Plans are on for Mr. Modi to hold a large public meeting in either of the two adjacent constituencies, most likely in October.
According to top BJP sources, party district president of Amethi, Uma Shankar Pandey, has been consulted on preparations for an impressive public meeting. “If [Congress president] Sonia Gandhi can do a road show in Mr. Modi’s constituency of Varanasi, then we too must respond,” said a senior source in the party, privy to the developments.
In the 2014 general elections, Textile Minister Smriti Irani had contested and lost the Amethi seat but not before setting off a panic in the Gandhi family camp.
Mr. Modi had last addressed a public meeting in that area in that election.
Since then, Ms. Irani has been visiting Amethi often and even persuaded Defence Minister Manohar Parikkar into adopting a village in the constituency under the Sansad Adarsh Gram Yojana. Mr. Parikkar is a Rajya Sabha MP from Uttar Pradesh.
A State unit office-bearer confirmed that there were “plans for a public meeting to be held by Prime Minister Modi” but was hazy on the specifics.
Mr. Modi has been frequently visiting the State from where his party won the largest number of MPs in the Lok Sabha.
During the course of this year, he was in Ballia to launch the Ujjwala Yojana for providing cooking gas to economically weaker families, as well as in Saharanpur to address mammoth public meetings to mark the two years of his government, and in Allahabad at the end of the BJP’s national executive meeting.