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Fasten Your Seat Belts: Modi, Mayawati and Rahul Have Officially Started 2019 Poll Race

Political analysts opine that the timing of Mayawati and Akhilesh’s joint press conference, closely coinciding with Modi’s speech is also an indication of how the two parties are trying to eclipse each other’s electoral prowess.

News18.com

Updated:January 13, 2019, 7:04 AM IST
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Fasten Your Seat Belts: Modi, Mayawati and Rahul Have Officially Started 2019 Poll Race
File photos of PM Narendra Modi, BSP chief Mayawati and Congress president Rahul Gandhi.
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The campaign for the 2019 general elections has officially begun. While the SP-BSP announced an alliance to counter the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on one hand, Prime Minister Narendra Modi set the electoral agenda at the saffron party’s national executive meet on the other. At the same time, Congress president Rahul Gandhi wooed Indian diaspora in Dubai - a crucial source of funding and support.

Political analysts opine that the timing of Mayawati and Akhilesh’s joint press conference, closely coinciding with Modi’s speech is also an indication of how the two parties are trying to eclipse each other’s electoral prowess.

The election bugle was sounded by BSP supremo Mayawati when she announced her party’s alliance with SP in Uttar Pradesh. The alliance partners decided to contest 38 seats each in Uttar Pradesh, which is, according to them, expected to decide the fate of Narendra Modi in the general elections later this year.

Minutes after the electorally charged announcement, PM Modi delivered the concluding speech at BJP's two-day national council meet at Ramlila Maidan in New Delhi. The meet, held in national capital, assumes significance in light of the upcoming Lok Sabha elections. The main agenda of the meet was social justice and farmer outreach. But the meet is largely being seen as BJP's strategy meet for the general elections.

Modi dubbed the anti-BJP grand alliance as a ‘failed experiment’, saying that the opposition parties are coming together as they want to form a ‘majboor’ (helpless) government, whereas the BJP wants a strong dispensation for holistic development.

“Country should decide if it wants a pradhan sevak who spends months on vacation abroad or one who works tirelessly without taking a break,” Modi told a packed Ramlila Maidan filled with party workers.

The BJP’s intention was made clear by party president Amit Shah on Friday as he asserted that they wanted the Ram Temple to be built in Ayodhya at the earliest, accusing the Congress of putting "hurdles" in the resolution of the issue.

Shah's reiteration of the party's stand on the issue in his inaugural address drew the most enthusiastic response from thousands of its members at Ramlila Maidan, underscoring its resonance with the saffron party's rank and file.

Meanwhile, Congress president Rahul Gandhi said on Friday that his party will grant special category status to Andhra Pradesh if voted to power in the upcoming general elections. He made the statement in his address to the Indian diaspora at a cricket stadium in Dubai on Friday.

Gandhi, who is in UAE on a two-day visit, announced, "As soon as our government comes to power, we will give special status to Andhra Pradesh". Andhra Pradesh was bifurcated into Telangana and the residuary Andhra Pradesh state on June 2, 2014.

Special category status has been one of the major demands of all political parties in Andhra since the bifurcation, and had made the Telugu Desam Party pull out from the NDA after the Narendra Modi government rejected the demand.

The Centre has cited the 14th Finance Commission and said that the report does not allow it to grant special status to Andhra Pradesh and has instead offered a special financial package, but Rahul Gandhi ignored such concerns while making the promise.

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