BJP set to hold its biggest rally in Rae Bareli
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BJP set to hold its biggest rally in Rae Bareli

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) chief Amit Shah will lead a high- powered party delegation, including chief minister Yogi Adityanath, to the Congress bastion of Rae Bareli for a rally on Saturday.

lucknow Updated: Apr 20, 2018 19:12 IST
Manish Chandra Pandey
Manish Chandra Pandey
Hindustan Times, Lucknow
Amit Shah,Yogi Adityanath,Sonia Gandhi
Uttar Pradesh deputy chief minister Dinesh Sharma and several ministers of the Modi and the Yogi governments will accompany Shah and Adityanath to Rae Bareli.(File Photo)

Barring three exceptions -- 1977, 1996 and 1998 -- Rae Bareli has stood with the Congress since 1952.

This time the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is out to test Rae Bareli’s love for the Nehru-Gandhi family currently represented by UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, a four-term MP.

The party is set to mount its biggest ever political offensive yet in this Congress pocket borough by tasking its booth level cadres in Rae Bareli to mobilise a crowd of one lakh plus rally by its chief Amit Shah, UP chief minister Yogi Adityanath, ministers of Modi and Yogi governments at the GIC grounds on Saturday.

Even half of the promised crowd would help in conveying Shah’s intent to rattle the Gandhis on their turf, BJP leaders said.

Nand Gopal Nandi, UP minister and in-charge of Rae Bareli, and party in-charge of the district Hero Bajpaihave undertaken two trips to supervise rally preparations in a region where even commoners admit defeating the Gandhis would be a tough task.

“The BJP is trying to make an impression here but I don’t think there is any doubt on who will win from here,” said a tea shop owner in Munshiganj confirming the popular notion that despite political setbacks elsewhere, this constituency would continue to vote for the Gandhis.

But BJP leaders point out how ‘successful’ the party has been in making an impression in Amethi – the Lok Sabha constituency of Congress chief Rahul Gandhi.

“Within 20 days, union minister Smriti Irani managed to cut Rahul’s victory margin substantially in the last Lok Sabha elections. Despite losing, she has been active there and this time the Congress might well be in for a surprise. Both Amethi and Rae Bareli are part of BJP’s ‘Mission 80’ in UP,” said Bajpai.

It was during his marathon meetings with chief minister Yogi Adityanath, Shah had given the party and the government a stiff target to meet in the 2019 LS polls – 50 per cent votes and all 80 LS seats from UP.

“Nothing is impossible in the dictionary of our party chief. Anyone who has worked with him would know that. The Congress has real reasons to worry now,” said party vice-president JPS Rathore.

The party is busy getting two stages prepared – one for Shah, Adityanath and ministers and the other smaller one for local leaders. Congress MLC from local body quota - Dinesh Pratap Singh who along with his brother Awadhesh, the zila panchayat chairman in Rae Bareli would join the BJP at the event, is assisting in rally preparations.

Dinesh’s brother Rakesh Singh, the Congress MLA from Harchandpur assembly segment of Rae Bareli, might not join the BJP here, ostensibly to escape disqualification under the Anti-Defection Act.

Amethi and Rae Bareli were the only two Lok Sabha seats that Congress could win from UP in 2014 Lok Sabha elections. Shah’s ‘Mission 80’ is aimed at rattling the Congress in its bastions, BJP leaders said.

The Saturday’s rally signalling party’s intent for Rae Bareli well ahead of Lok Sabha elections is unique for even in 2014 Lok Sabha elections when Modi had broken the unwritten code - of top leaders not visiting each others’ constituencies – by holding a rally in Amethi, he had stayed clear of Rae Bareli.

In fact, Modi had visited Amethi only after Rae Bareli had voted, BJP leaders pointed out. Rahul had then held a roadshow in Varanasi from where Modi contested.

At the moment the Congress is sounding brave. “Congress has been winning Rae Bareli since 1952 when this seat was a mix of Pratapgarh (west) and Rae Bareli (east). BJP is welcome in Rae Bareli because they would now know their real worth here. And it’s from here that their downfall will begin,” said Congress leader Devendra Pratap Singh.

First Published: Apr 19, 2018 15:32 IST