Narendra Modi's first visit to Varanasi post demonetisation: Can PM set the tone for 2017 UP polls?
Prime Minister Narendra Modi is all set to set the tone for the crucial Assembly polls in Uttar Pradesh during his visit to Varanasi on Thursday.
Delhi: Close on the heels of BJP and Shiromani Akali Dal's (SAD) good showing in the city municipal corporation election in which demonetisation had emerged as a key issue, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is expected to set the tone for the crucial Assembly polls in Uttar Pradesh, which is just around the corner, during his visit to Varanasi on Thursday.
Needless to say, BJP's grassroots level cadre in PM Modi's Lok Sabha constituency shall be looking forward to receiving from him the mantra for electoral success during his tour of the ancient temple town.
Interaction with nearly 20,000 booth-level party workers at the Diesel Locmotive Works (DLW) premises forms a major part of the Prime Minister's itinerary.
To be noted is the fact that the PM's visit could be the last to his parliamentary constituency before the poll schedule is announced and the Model Code of Conduct comes into force.
Also, to be noted is the fact is that this would be PM Modi's first tour of his parliamentary constituency since demonetisation of Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes, that has drawn much flak from the Opposition as the shortage of currency caused inconvenience to traders, salaried groups, artisans and unskilled daily wage earners alike.
However, if recent results of polls after the demonetisation is anything to go by in states like Maharashtra, Gujarat, Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and recently in Chandigarh, BJP has emerged winner in many seats.
This has prompted the saffron party leaders to say that the results have been a kind of referendum on the Centre's move on note ban and people are by and large, despite inconveniences, behind PM Modi's fight against black money and corruption.
Thus, PM Modi and the BJP will surely be keen to capitalise on this sentiment.
As far as UP is concerned BJP is up against the ruling Samajwadi Party and Mayawati's Bahujan Samaj Party. Congress, many feel, are not much of a player in the Hindi heartland.
From being a force to reckon with in the state in the 1990s, thanks to the momentum generated by the Ramjanmabhoomi agitation, the BJP underwent a steep decline in the first decade of the century.
However, expectations have been high since the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, when the party stunned all by putting up its best-ever performance, winning 71 out of the 78 seats it had contested in the state.
The spectacular comeback owed much to PM Modi's decision to step out of Gujarat and contest from eastern UP seat.
The party's performance in the Assembly polls in the state - which is the most populous and hence sends maximum number of MPs to the Lok Sabha - is likely to have a bearing on its future prospects on the national level.
This will be PM Modi's ninth tour of Varanasi since he became the Prime Minister in May, 2014 and December 22 visit will also be his fifth since January this year.
Can the PM give the final push to his party and help the BJP improve its tally in the 403-strong UP assembly where it has less than 50 MLAs?
The answer to this question will out in 2017 but before that there is no doubt that PM Modi and BJP will go all out in the so-called 'mother of all battles'.
(With Agency inputs)