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High-profile visits set to rev up political activity in Uttar Pradesh

Hectic political activity is expected in Uttar Pradesh over the next 10 days with visits by BJP chief Amit Shah, union minister Smriti Irani and Congress president Rahul Gandhi on the cards.

lucknow Updated: Apr 09, 2018 12:02 IST
Manish Chandra Pandey
Manish Chandra Pandey
Hindustan Times, Lucknow
High profile visits,Political activity,Uttar Pradesh
Congress chief Rahul Gandhi, Union minister Smriti Irani and BJP chief Amit Shah will visit UP.(HT Photo)

Hectic political activity is expected in Uttar Pradesh over the next 10 days with visits by BJP chief Amit Shah, union minister Smriti Irani and Congress president Rahul Gandhi on the cards.

Shah is likely to be in the state capital on April 10 and party leaders say he may have to deal with a number of issues —tackling growing Dalit unrest, both within and outside the party, expansion of the Yogi cabinet and placating angry allies.

Then, Smriti Irani is set to re-engage herself in the battle of Amethi, the Lok Sabha constituency of Congress chief Rahul Gandhi, with a two-day visit from April 13.

Party leaders indicate her visit is a virtual confirmation of the plan to get her to test the poll waters in Amethi again in 2019 elections against the Congress chief.

Irani had succeeded in reducing Gandhi’s victory margin in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.

Party leaders also say Irani is scheduled to meet gram pradhans in Amethi, do ‘bhoomi pujan’ of krishi vigyan kendra and inspect Pipri dam on the Gomti river. She had got the dam sanctioned in response to a long-pending demand by flood-hit villagers.

Ahead of her visit, the local BJP unit on Sunday sent 200 elderly party cadres on a pilgrimage to Haridwar. Luxury buses were arranged for them, an initiative of Irani which BJP leaders admit underlines her and the party’s resolve to strengthen ties with the cadres of the constituency.

“Five buses with 40 party cadres each from Salon, Amethi, Gauriganj, Jagdishpur and Tiloi, the five assembly segments that make up the Amethi Lok Sabha constituency, embarked on a four-day pilgrimage. Didi (Smriti) will foot the bill. She has been working for the constituency and its people relentlessly,” said RP Singh, the BJP’s district in-charge.

Aware of the challenges, the Congress too has lined up a visit by its chief to Amethi, possibly a two-day affair from April 16.

“From Amethi, the Congress chief will give a direction to the party workers to take on the Modi and Yogi governments, both of whom are under attack from their own party leaders and allies over growing Dalit atrocities. The BJP’s own tribal and Dalit MPs have accused local party leaders of harassment and its UP allies are also busy accusing the party of deceit,” said Congress leader Devendra Pratap Singh.

During his two-day stay, the Congress chief is also expected to collect feedback from cadre who are expected to brief him on the emerging scenario after ‘latest political realignments following BSP’s support to SP in the Lok Sabha by-polls.’

The Congress had gone it alone in the Lok Sabha by-polls of Gorakhpur and Phulpur where the BSP supported Samajwadi Party sprung a surprise by defeating the candidates of the ruling BJP.

The Congress had subsequently gone on to support the BSP candidate Bhimrao Ambedkar in the Rajya Sabha elections. Despite the support of Samajwadi Party, the BSP candidate lost to the BJP in the second preference votes.

The next challenge for the united opposition is the election for the upper house of the UP legislature and the nominations will begin from Monday.

Of the 13 vacancies to the UP legislative council, the BJP is in a position to win 11 seats while the SP-BSP has enough numbers to win the remaining two. The Congress leaders admitted that the party will support the SP-BSP candidates in a larger indication of a bigger anti-BJP alliance in the 2019 Lok Sabha election.

First Published: Apr 09, 2018 12:02 IST