Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Kedarnath in November 2018 to review reconstruction work.(PTI FILE PHOTO)
Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Kedarnath in November 2018 to review reconstruction work.(PTI FILE PHOTO)

PM Modi may launch BJP’s Lok Sabha poll campaign from Kedarnath

Modi’s visit will follow BJP chief Amit Shah’s Dehradun visit on February 2, when he will address a meeting of party workers from the two state parliamentary constituencies of Dehradun and Haridwar.
Hindustan Times, Dehradun | By Deep Joshi
PUBLISHED ON JAN 15, 2019 07:57 AM IST

Prime Minister Narendra Modi may launch the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)’s campaign for the Lok sabha elections from Kedarnath during his proposed visit to Uttarakhand in March, said a senior office bearer of the party familiar with the development.

“Modiji is likely to address a public meeting in the sate in March,” BJP state unit president Ajay Bhatt, who returned after attending the party’s recently concluded two-day national council meeting, confirmed on Monday. He, however, said there was no confirmation whether the Prime Minister would launch the party’s election campaign from Kedarnath.

Incidentally, Modi’s visit will follow BJP chief Amit Shah’s Dehradun visit on February 2, when he will address a meeting of party workers from the two state parliamentary constituencies of Dehradun and Haridwar. They will include grassroots workers from areas around 4, 624 polling booths, party legislators, office bearers of its district and mandal level units and all seven frontal organisations, besides those holding minister-level posts and mayors.

BJP insiders said the party’s state unit is pressing for its two top leaders’ visit because it faces the tough challenge of retaining all the five Lok Sabha seats. The challenge could become tougher for the ruling party owing to a resurgent Congress that recently defeated the BJP in Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh.

It will be Shah’s third visit after the party’s landslide win in the 2017 state elections. BJP insiders feel his visit would help galvanise the party ahead of Lok Sabha elections.

A senior party leader said the Prime Minister’s proposed visit could turn things around for the BJP. “It can prove to be a game changer for us (party) as Modi is likely to launch the party’s campaign from Kedarnath,” the leader said on condition of anonymity.

He agreed that the strategy could help the BJP in wooing Hindu voters, the fabled shrine in the Chardham being the centre of faith for the majority community.

Reports about the BJP leadership eyeing the majority Hindu voters started doing the rounds after the Prime Minister laid the foundation stone of the Kedarpuri reconstruction project in October 2017. The reconstruction project was launched about five years after the shrine town was struck by the cataclysmic floods in 2013, in which thousands of lives were lost.

Modi again visited Kedarnath in November 2018 to review the reconstruction work amid reports that he might launch the BJP’s campaign for the parliamentary elections from the shrine town.

Such reports further gained ground owing to the central government’s plan to develop Kedarpuri under a Smart City project envisioned by the Prime Minister.

Confirming this in an interview to Hindustan Times in March 2018, chief secretary Utpal Kumar Singh said pilgrims visit a religious place like Kedarpuri to experience a sense of peace and spirituality forgetting their day-to-day problems. “The Smart City project aims to facilitate that blissful experience besides safety,” he said.

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