Modi to visit Congress stronghold of Rae Bareli on Sunday


Lucknow. Notwithstanding the setbacks BJP suffered in assembly polls in three major Hindi heartland states this week, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is set to visit Rae Bareli, the traditional seat of the Gandhi family, on Sunday.

This will be the first visit by the prime minister to the constituency represented by United Progressive Alliance chairperson and former Congress president Sonia Gandhi, and before her by other members of her family.

Modi’s visit is being seen as a strategy of the BJP to pin the Congress leadership in their respective constituencies in the 2019 general election.

His visit was planned before the counting of votes polled in the five states was taken up on December 11, following which the Congress party threw out BJP governments in three states Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh.

Union Textile Minister Smriti Irani, who contested the 2014 Lok Sabha election from the neighbouring Amethi against Congress president Rahul Gandhi, often visits Rae Bareli apparently as part of a bid by the BJP to dent the Gandhi family bastion in 2019.

On Sunday, Modi will hold a public meeting and flag off the Humsafar Express in the district, officials said.

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath visited Rae Bareli on Thursday to oversee preparations for the visit. He also took a tour of the Rail Coach Factory in the district.

According to the officials, Modi will lay the foundation stone and inaugurate projects worth Rs 1,100 crore during the visit.

Sonia Gandhi has not visited Rae Bareli since April. Before that, she visited the constituency in mid-2016. Also, she did not campaign in the constituency during the 2017 UP election, after she developed a health issue during a roadshow in Varanasi.

The Congress has accused the Modi government of derailing the development of Rae Bareli. But Union Finance Minister and Rajya Sabha member Arun Jaitley recently spent his MPLAD funds on developmental works in the constituency.