Prime Minister Narendra Modi is scheduled to visit his Lok Sabha constituency tomorrow where he is set to launch a number of ambitious projects including a 1500-km-long gas pipeline costing Rs 51,000 crore and doubling of railway tracks on a busy route.
On his eighth visit here since becoming Prime Minister, Modi will launch “Urja Ganga”, the gas pipeline project which promises to provide piped cooking gas to residents of Varanasi within two years and, in another year thereafter, cater to millions of people in states like Bihar, Jharkhand, West Bengal and Odisha.
Modi is also scheduled to flag off projects like doubling of railway tracks on the busy Allahabad-Varanasi section and expansion of the Diesel Locomotive Works (DLW) here besides laying foundation stone for a fully air-conditioned perishable cargo centre.
He will also release a stamp dedicated to the ancient temple town, which is believed to be among the oldest surviving ones in the world.
Besides, he will lay the foundation stone for widening of a road passing through the city’s crowded Cantonment area.
Tight security arrangements are in place across the city where the Special Protection Group (SPG) has been camping since Friday to oversee preparations for the Prime Minister’s visit.
The sprawling DLW premises, where the PM is likely to reach by a helicopter, has been declared a “no fly zone” until his departure tomorrow evening.
The city has been abuzz with activity for the past few days during which a number of Union Ministers like Piyush Goyal (Power), Dharmendra Pradhan (Petroleum) and Manoj Sinha (Railways) have visited the venue of the function and supervised preparations for the Prime Minister’s tour of his parliamentary constituency, which comes close to six months after his previous trip on May 1 this year.
Local unit of the BJP, on its part, has launched a cleanliness drive across the city besides putting up posters at various places highlighting the various welfare schemes launched since Modi assumed power.
Recently, the party’s Uttar Pradesh unit had also issued a statement welcoming the Prime Minister on his “first visit to Varanasi after the surgical strikes”.
Modi’s visit to the city comes at a time when assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh are just a few months away and political temperatures are soaring.
His arrival in Varanasi will immediately follow a rally, earlier in the day, at Mahoba district in the state’s impoverished Bundelkhand region.
The Mahoba rally is said to be the first in a series of eight public meetings that the Prime Minister is scheduled to address in various parts of the state, in the run-up to the assembly elections wherein the BJP hopes for a revival in UP after having suffered a decade-long slump.
Although it was the top political party in UP in the 1990s, the BJP suffered a sharp decline in the decade that followed when the state’s political scene came to be dominated by regional satraps Mulayam Singh Yadav and Mayawati.
The party, however, made a dramatic comeback in the Lok Sabha elections of 2014, when it put up its best-ever performance and bagged 71 seats out of the 78 it had contested in the state.
Its stupendous performance in the most populous state of the country has been acknowledged by BJP president Amit Shah as one factor that enabled the party to get an absolute majority, for the first time, in the Lok Sabha.
Among the many factors which were said to have led to the BJP’s spectacular show in UP, was Modi’s decision to step out of his home state of Gujarat and fight from this eastern UP seat.
Upon winning the seat by a resounding margin of 3.71 lakh votes, Modi retained Varanasi and gave up Vadodara even though the margin of victory was higher there (5.7 lakh votes).