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PM to address first public meeting in Satara on October 17

As the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) goes all out to win the October 21 Assembly polls, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is expected to address his first rally towards the end of the campaigning in Satara, western Maharashtra, on October 17.

The Prime Minister, who will address nine public meetings across the State, will also hold another one in Pune city the same day, informed BJP State unit chief Chandrakant Patil, himself a candidate from the city’s Kothrud Assembly segment.

The party’s other ‘star campaigner’, Union Home Minister Amit Shah, is slated to hold 17 public meetings.

“The Prime Minister will be holding nine public meetings in all with two of these in western Maharashtra. Of these, the Satara rally which will take place around noon on October 17 while the Pune address is scheduled for the same evening. Mr. Shah’s schedule is being finalised,” informed Mr. Patil, adding that the Union Home Minister’s first meeting is likely to be in Sangli district on October 10.

Mr. Modi’s public meetings will be held for two crucial constituencies where the prestige of both BJP candidates are at stake — the Satara Lok Sabha by-election where royalist Udayanraje Bhosale is the candidate, and the Kothrud Assembly seat from where Mr. Patil is contesting.

Mr. Bhosale, a former three-time Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) MP who recently switched alliances to join the BJP, is pitted against the NCP’s Shriniwas Patil, the ex-Governor of Sikkim.

Mr. Modi’s Pune rally will be especially vital for the fortunes of Mr. Patil, who is contesting his first Assembly election and faces a formidable challenge in Kothrud in the form of voter resentment and a disgruntled Shiv Sena leadership.

“Earlier, there was a problem over settling on the dates for the Prime Minister’s rally…we thought of October 10, but it was thought too early. Then, we thought of October 13 and now it has been fixed for October 17,” Mr. Patil said, adding that the party would start looking for a suitable place to hold these public meetings.

In stark contrast, the beleaguered Congress has yet to get its act together with the leadership still in the dark about Rahul Gandhi’s proposed campaign programme for the Congress’ candidates.

MNS looking for venue

Meanwhile, with Raj Thackeray’s Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) taking the plunge in electoral politics, the MNS chief is not getting a venue in Pune ahead of its first rally scheduled on October 9.

An irate Ajay Shinde, who is the MNS’ Pune city chief, claimed that educational institutes had refused the party a place for Mr. Thackeray’s first rally in the city’s Kasba Peth area.

“We have been trying to secure a ground since October 1 and have approached the district authorities… However, no educational institution is willing to give us a place,” said Mr. Shinde.

He further hit out at the ruling BJP-Sena government’s alleged ‘dictatorship’ and accused them of attempting to stifle democracy by denying political space for opposition parties.

“We will hold our rally at Alka Chowk on October 9 come what may and the [BJP-Sena] government will then be responsible for any law and order situation that may arise,” warned Mr. Shinde.

Mr. Thackeray, whose party did not contest the recent Lok Sabha elections, had nevertheless managed to draw large crowds at his rallies.

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Printable version | May 18, 2022 2:37:15 am | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/pm-to-address-first-public-meeting-in-satara-on-october-17/article29612942.ece