An astounding 10 lakh people — to be brought in 15,000 buses and 35,000 other vehicles — are expected to attend Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Parivartan Maharally here on Monday in what is being tipped as the biggest political rally by him in a long time.
If the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) manages the numbers, Modi’s rally at the Ramabai Ambedkar grounds could give a ‘psychological edge’ over the main opposition party in Uttar Pradesh — the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) led by four-time chief minister Mayawati.
“The sheer numbers would be enough to unnerve Mayawati ji,” said Brajesh Pathak, a former Maya aide-turned-BJP leader.
Modi had last addressed a rally in Lucknow on March 2, 2014, as the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate. The 80 acres of the Ramabai Ambedkar grounds can hold up to five lakh people.
“The crowd would be an answer to the critics of demonetisation,” says UP BJP general secretary Vijay Bahadur Pathak.
However, there may be more to this rally than just numbers. It would take place just after Uttar Pradesh chief minister Akhilesh Yadav’s group asserted control of the ruling Samajwadi Party (SP), with whom BJP chief Amit Shah has predicted a contest in the 2017 assembly polls.
BJP strategists say that while the SP family feud has helped in marketing of ‘Brand Akhilesh’, it has also opened up the possibility of a revolt by the chief minister’s uncle, Shivpal Yadav.
“It could also mean that for the first time, the BJP would have to think of directly countering Akhilesh,” says Athar Siddiqui from the Centre of Objective Research and Development.
On talks of the Congress entering into a pre-poll tie-up with Akhilesh, a BJP leader said, “If that happens, the party may have to redraw its ticket distribution plans. The Modi speech could give a broad hint of how the fear of the BJP is forcing party’s adversaries to enter into an unholy political understanding.”
The BJP would also deploy nearly 250 people from its information technology team to publicise the rally on social media. The rally would be telecast live on Facebook.