LUCKNOW: In a first since he became the Prime Minister, Narendra Modi is visiting Raebareli, the bastion of UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi. During his visit, he will flag off the Humsafar Express and will lay the foundation stone and inaugurate projects worth Rs 1,100 crore. He will also visit Allahabad to review preparations for the Kumbh Mela to be held in the city next year.
The PM is likely to reach the rail coach helipad at 9:50 am on Sunday. Thereafter he will visit the rail coach factory and will flag off the train at 10:30 pm. He is likely to leave for Allahabad at 11:30 am.
Ahead of the PM's visit, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath had on Thursday visited Raebareli to oversee preparations for the visit. He also took a tour of the Rail Coach Factory in the district.
The Prime Minister's visit to the traditional Gandhi seat is being seen as a strategy of the BJP to attack the Congress leadership from their own constituencies ahead of 2019 Lok Sabha elections. The visit is also being viewed as the beginning of the 2019 campaign for the BJP.
"I am of the view that the Sunday's visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Allahabad will be a 'shankhnaad' (blowing of conch shell) or the 2019 Lok Sabha election," Uttar Pradesh Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya said.
While the Congress has accused the Modi government of derailing the development of Rae Bareli, Finance minister and Rajya Sabha member Arun Jaitley had recently spent his Members of Parliament Local Area Development Scheme (MPLAD) funds on developmental works in the constituency.
Sonia Gandhi has not visited Rae Bareli since April. She was last in the constituency in mid-2016 and did not even campaign during the 2017 UP election as she developed a health issue during a roadshow in Varanasi.