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Day after no-trust win, Modi to woo farmers at Shahjahanpur rally

Besides assuring farmers of his government’s support, the PM is expected to meet two Muslim women who were allegedly divorced through the controversial triple-talaq practice.

india Updated: Jul 21, 2018 12:19 IST
Manish Chandra Pandey
Manish Chandra Pandey
Hindustan Times, Shahjahanpur
Narendra Modi,Shahjahanpur,No-confidence motion
Day after no-trust win, Modi is all set to address a farmers’ rally at Shahjahanpur in Uttar Pradesh on Saturday. (Reuters Photo)

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is all set to address a farmers’ rally at Shahjahanpur in Uttar Pradesh on Saturday afternoon, a day after his government decisively defeated a no-confidence motion in the Lok Sabha.

Modi, who accused Congress president Rahul Gandhi of being in a hurry to grab the Prime Minister’s chair during the parliamentary proceedings, is expected to further intensify his attack on the Opposition during the rally held at Uttar Pradesh’s biggest grain market. He is likely to meet Nida Khan, a 23-year-old divorcee who was unhappily married into the family of famous Sufi scholar Ahmed Raza Khan before allegedly being given the triple-talaq, during the event. Union minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi’s sister Farhat, who also claims to be a victim of the controversial divorce practice, has been invited to the political event too.

While Nida’s presence would boost the BJP’s attempts to woo women from the Muslim community, the focus would be on two bigger political objectives – ensuring a second term in office for Modi and defeating the Opposition’s attempts to cobble up an anti-BJP front ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.

This will be Modi’s third rally in Shahjahanpur. He had addressed his first public meeting here as the Gujarat chief minister in 2009 and then as the BJP’s prime ministerial face in 2014.

BJP leaders say Modi may reiterate the numbers his government scored in Lok Sabha after the no-trust vote – 325 votes of 451 members present and voting in the house (beating its own target of a two-thirds win) – to defeat the Congress’ attempts to cobble up the anti-BJP front.

Shahjahanpur’s stature as the state’s biggest grain market also suits the BJP’s purposes. The largely agrarian region has over four lakh farmers, of which nearly 1.5 lakh are direct beneficiaries of various government schemes. Nearly 50,000 farmers in Shahjahanpur have benefitted from the loan waiver scheme of the Yogi Adityanath government, which was among Modi’s biggest commitments to Uttar Pradesh in the 2017 state election campaign. This factor would come in handy for the Prime Minister to rebut the Congress’ charge that the BJP government is anti-farmer and anti-poor.

The saffron party has also instructed its agriculturists’ wing – the BJP Kisan Morcha – to hold farmer welfare meetings across the state around the time of Modi’s Shahjahanpur visit. Chief minister Yogi Adityanath and state BJP president Mahendra Nath Pandey visited the region on Tuesday to review preparations for the rally, and held meetings with the district magistrates of Shahjahanpur, Hardoi, Lakhimpur Kheri, Sitapur, Farrukhabad, Pilibhit, Badaun, Rampur and Bareilly (from where the crowds are expected to come).

Through these meetings, the BJP plans to make the rural masses aware of the Modi government’s decision to hike the minimum support price (MSP) of various crops planted in the current kharif season. “The hike in MSP of various crops announced by Prime Minister Modi is truly historic. Such a massive hike has been implemented for the first time since Independence,” Adityanath said.

Pandey also expressed a similar sentiment, stating that the hike in MSP for 14 kharif crops would directly benefit farmers.

The Congress dismissed the rally, terming it as just another platform for Modi to mouth empty promises. “Nothing has been done for the farmer, except for jumlebaazi (lip service),” said former Union minister and Congress leader Jitin Prasada, who hails from the region.

Shahjahanpur, a reserved seat, is currently represented in the Lok Sabha by Krishna Raj – a member of the backward Pasi community and a sitting Union minister of state.

BJP heavyweight Suresh Khanna, also the state’s urban development minister, is a seven-term lawmaker from Shahjahanpur. He is leaving no stone unturned to showcase his clout as a mass leader from the region.

“This is clearly BJP’s high point but Khanna had been winning even when the chips were down. He is staying here to supervise the arrangements himself. The Prime Minister will get a grand welcome here,” a party leader said.

First Published: Jul 21, 2018 11:46 IST