The BJP concluded its four Parivartan Rath Yatras spanning 192 days in poll-bound Uttar Pradesh with a road show featuring party veterans and senior Union ministers in Lucknow on Saturday.
The show saw home minister Rajnath Singh, also an MP from Lucknow, administer a pledge to party cadre to ensure a BJP government in the state.
Justifying the government’s demonetisation move, Singh said, “Demonetisation is in national interest. This government doesn’t hesitate in taking bold decisions. The currency ban would help the poor.”
Ahead of the 2017 polls, the BJP is aggressively wooing Dalits and OBCs — the two groups who constitute over 70 per cent of the state’s electorate.
The four BJP yatras had started between and November 5 and 9, coinciding with the November 8 currency ban. The yatras, thus, helped the BJP blunt the sharp political criticism of the move.
Initially, the yatras were to conclude in Lucknow with a rally by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The Modi rally was subsequently rescheduled for January 2 and replaced with a road show that crawled its way through the busy Hazratganj market on Saturday.
Through the roughly 6-km route, the rally was welcomed by the cadre who kept on showering flowers and garlands at the BJP leaders. The party’s minority wing ensured the presence of some skull cap wearing Muslims at the show.
“We are here to prove that Muslims would side with any party that thinks about the country,” said 60-year-old Zafar Abbas who was present at the show. Lawyers too turned up in impressive numbers.
“So many people have come just to show their support to the BJP, Modiji and Rajnathji,” said Dilip Srivastava, advocate and party leader.
Giving Singh company were Union ministers Kalraj Mishra, an MP from Deoria in east UP, and Uma Bharti, an MP from Jhansi in Bundelkhand, BJP national secretary Mahendra Singh, national vice-president Dinesh Sharma and UP BJP chief Keshav Prasad Maurya.
In the motorised chariots that followed Singh’s vehicle, Union ministers Mahedra Pandey, Sanjeev Balyan and Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti were also seen. Former Uttar Pradesh Congress Committee chief Rita Bahuguna Joshi, who joined the BJP, was also seen on the rath while Union minister of state General (retd) VK Singh walked with the cadre.