Narendra Modi's Maharashtra tour kicks off in Mumbai today
As the BJP gears up for election day, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will reportedly address 24 rallies across the state, including an appearance at NCP stronghold, Baramati
After its bitter break-up with Shiv Sena, and the following criticism from its erstwhile ally, the BJP now seems to be taking the state assembly polls seriously, and has planned an extensive and backbreaking series of as many as 750 rallies across the state that will cash in on the popularity of all its star national campaigners, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
PM Modi is scheduled to address three rallies in Mumbai, and another two in Thane during his state-wide tour. File pic
Starting today, the PM will embark on a ten-day tour of the state, addressing as many as 24 of the party’s rallies.
This evening, Modi will address citizens at Mahalaxmi Racecourse at 6.30 pm, after returning from rallies in Beed and Aurangabad in the Marathwada region.
He is scheduled to make two more appearances in Mumbai, and another two in Thane during the tour. BJP officials are confident that the Modi wave will sweep Maharashtra as well, with the PM scheduled to visit every nook and cranny of the state.
NCP on the target
In fact, he will even address a rally at Baramati — home ground of the NCP. According to party officials, Modi will be the first national-level leader of such prominence to address citizens at the Pawar family bastion.
The Baramati rally can be read as an attempt by the BJP to clear the air, with the Congress and Shiv Sena recently raising suspicions that the party might align with NCP post elections.
'Will show Sena'
The BJP is pulling out all stops in the contest, and organising the large number of rallies in view of the recent tirade launched by the Shiv Sena against it. Sena leaders have repeatedly blamed BJP state leaders for the break in the alliance, and have taken several veiled shots at the party in the past few weeks, positioning themselves as pro Maharashtra, and the BJP as the ‘outsiders’.
“Though we announced our conscious decision to refrain from criticising our former ally, a systematic campaign is being conducted through social media and public rallies, harping on about regional bias with a caste slur,” said a senior party office bearer.
In hindsight, it has now become clear that the BJP’s decision to snap ties with Shiv Sena was a well-devised plan, which came into reality late.
The party has also had to face further embarrassment when it had to resort to poaching candidates, and then when some of its own candidates jumped ship at the last hour, or failed to file accurate nomination forms.
But, perhaps it will repair all the damage with the state-wide tour.
“The party has planned as many as 750 small and big rallies, coming up to three rallies per assembly constituency. All the star campaigners of the party across the states will participate in it. Even then, we feel that the rallies addressed by PM Modi will make a huge difference,” the leader added.
Security for PM's speech
With Prime Minister Narendra Modi delivering his first public speech in Mumbai since taking over the nation’s reins, thousands are expected to flock to the grounds at Mahalaxmi Racecourse.
The dais, canopy and barricades were already being set up on Friday, while senior police officials and security staff were keeping a close watch in and around the venue.
Around 900 buses are expected to ferry people across the city to the rally. “These buses will mainly drop passengers, and then park on Senapati Bapat Marg (between Lower Parel and Mahim),” said a BJP party worker.
The Traffic police will be diverting traffic as well. “Keshav Kharye Road, connecting Mahalaxmi and Haji Ali, will have traffic restrictions in the evening,” said Quaiser Khalid, additional commissioner of police (traffic), adding that traffic would also be restricted on roads connecting Haji Ali to the airport.