LUCKNOW: With barely a week to go before assembly elections, Uttar Pradesh is set to witness a host of political heavyweights hitting the campaign trail today. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is leading the BJP campaign in the state, is expected to hold a rally in Aligarh, in Western Uttar Pradesh. Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi will also address a public meeting in Western Uttar Pradesh – at Saharanpur. Later in the day, he will also lead a rally along with alliance partner and state Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav in Kanpur. Prime Minister Narendra Modi will hold a rally in Aligarh this afternoon – his address to the crowd is expected around 2 pm. The BJP, which is yet to announce a Chief Ministerial candidate in the state, has kept him on the forefront of the campaign.
This would be PM Modi’s second rally in the state – the first rally was held in Meerut yesterday.
Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi is expected to address a public meeting in Saharanpur’s Gangoh.
Later, Mr Gandhi is expected to hold a rally in Kanpur with Akhilesh Yadav, which is to end at the grounds of the Government Inter College.
Polling will be held in 73 of the 140 constituencies in Western Uttar Pradesh in the first phase on February 11. The rest — 67 constituencies — will go to polls on February 15. Areas near the Nepal border will also have polls on the second phase.
The voting in Western Uttar Pradesh, which had been rocked by Muzaffarnagar riots in 2013, is expected to set the tone for the next rounds of election.
Last week, on Friday, Akhilesh Yadav and Rahul Gandhi held a huge roadshow in Agra. The two leaders had announced their alliance on January 29, with a rally in Lucknow and a show of great bonhomie.
The BJP, which is hoping to win big in Uttar Pradesh after capturing 70 of the state’s 80 Lok Sabha seats in the 2014 General Elections, has said the mandate in this assembly polls will be a referendum on the notes ban. The move by the Central government, announced by PM Modi on November 8, was meant to be a huge coup against black money and corruption.
Yesterday, in his meeting in Meerut, PM Modi said he was committed to end corruption in the country. The fight against SCAM — Samajwadi (Party), Congress, Akhilesh (Yadav) and Mayawati — starts with Uttar Pradesh, he had told cheering crowds.
The elections to the 403 seats of Uttar Pradesh will be held in seven phases starting February 11. The results will be announced on March 11.