Modi’s rallies are significant given Lok Sabha polls are due next year and the BJP hopes to fight it on a pro-rural, pro-farmer plank.
New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi is set to launch a farmer outreach campaign, days after the BJP-led NDA government raised the minimum support price of paddy crop by Rs 200 per quintal – a politically significant move in the run-up to the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.
Last Thursday, the party’s central leadership directed all state units to do their bit in publicising the initiative and hold press conferences regarding the government’s farmer-friendly initiative.
According to sources in the party, Modi has decided to travel to various parts of the country within the next week to address four farmers’ rallies and talk about this steep increase in MSP.
Besides a rally in the Punjab’s Malout — a bastion of the Badals — on 11 July, rallies are being planned in the eastern and southern parts of the country as well.
Similar events may also be held in West Bengal and Karnataka on 15 and 16 July respectively. There will be a rally in Shahjahanpur in Uttar Pradesh on 21 July. The idea is to hold such a rally in each part of the country.
Sources, however, say given the PM’s tight schedule, the dates could be reworked. Uttar Pradesh is particularly crucial for the BJP given it would not want to slide down too much from the 71 of the 80 seats it won in 2014, and which largely catapulted it to power.
However, the BJP had received a drubbing in some of the bypolls — Gorakhpur, Phulpur and Kairana — earlier this year. The party is now trying to make significant inroads into the Mamata Banerjee-led West Bengal. It hopes a farmer outreach campaign by the PM himself would aide it further.
In Karnataka, the party narrowly missed out on forming a government in May but hopes to make gains in the state in 2019. While West Bengal sends 42 members to the Lok Sabha, Karnataka sends 28.
These rallies are significant given Lok Sabha polls are due next year and the BJP hopes to fight it on a pro-rural, pro-farmer and welfare plank. The farm crisis and farmer unrest had hit the BJP hard, including in states like Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan where assembly polls are due later this year.
The PM is also scheduled to travel to his constituency Varanasi, Azamgarh and Mirzapur in Uttar Pradesh over this weekend and his home state Gujarat for two days late next week for different events. However, given the country is already in poll-mode, each of the PM’s public meetings is expected to see elements of his 2019 campaign.