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The Hindu
The Hindu

Lok Sabha elections 2024 | BJP's Jitin Prasada seeks to ride the 'Modi wave' to win in Pilibhit

Dressed in a white kurta-pyjama and with a saffron scarf around his neck, Uttar Pradesh cabinet minister and BJP Lok Sabha candidate from Pilibhit, Jitin Prasada reads out the names of a few local party workers from a paper at a public meeting in Pilibhit.

"I might not know the names of people here but I will get to know them in the coming years," says the Public Works Department (PWD) minister, who hails from adjoining Shahjahanpur district.

The BJP chose Mr. Prasada over sitting Pilibhit MP Varun Gandhi.

The constituency has been represented by Varun Gandhi or his mother Maneka Gandhi since 1996.

Mr. Prasada and Anoop Pradhan Valmiki (the party’s candidate from Hathras) are the only ministers from the Uttar Pradesh cabinet to contest in the Lok Sabha elections.

Modi’s ‘messenger’

Mr. Prasada’s campaign appears focused on the work done by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government in the last 10 years and his vision for a ‘Viksit Bharat’ (developed India). He does not mention local issues like flooding during monsoon or lack of industrial infrastructure and direct road and railway links to important cities.

"I have come here as a 'doot' (messenger) of Modi ji. All of us are working to fulfil his dream of 'Viksit Bharat'," Prasada told PTI while walking through narrow alleys on his way to the Jhandewala crossing to address a public meeting.

Addressing the gathering, he said, "Modi ji removed (Article) 370, Modi ji constructed the Ram temple and has ushered in development which is being seen all around the country."

"Every vote cast for the lotus (BJP's election symbol) will go to Modi ji and strengthen him," he said, adding, "Modi ji will return as the prime minister for the third time."

Asked if he has identified any local issues to focus on during campaigning, Mr. Prasada said, "Our campaign is not being run by the party but by the people who are happy with the work done by PM Modi and want to make him the PM again."

Pressed on the issue, he said, "I am not going anywhere. I will stay here and work for people for the next five years under the leadership of PM Modi."

On the BJP picking him over Varun Gandhi as its Pilibhit candidate, Mr. Prasada said, "The BJP is a party of paramount discipline. When the party makes a decision or gives any direction, everyone works towards the same goal."

"We all are here to take forward the good work being done under the leadership of PM Modi. That must be our ultimate goal," he said as he got inside his car to head to another public meeting organised in the Tel Mill area.

Addressing the gathering, he once again appealed to people to vote for Modi. "Vote in such a way on April 19 that the entire country sees how strong the Modi wave is," he exhorted the gathering.

When someone from the crowd asked if he would stay in the city after the elections, he said, "I am not going anywhere now. I will stay here with all of you."

Prasada’s political journey

Mr. Prasada began his political career with the Congress. He was first elected to the Lok Sabha from Shahjahanpur in 2004 and then from Dhaurara in 2009. He served as Union minister in UPA l and UPA ll.

Following electoral losses, he joined the BJP in 2021, months before the Uttar Pradesh assembly polls.

Pilibhit will go to polls in the first phase of the Lok Sabha elections on April 19. In the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, Mr. Gandhi had received a record 7 lakh votes.

Mr.Prasada is pitted against Samajwadi Party's Bhagwat Saran Gangwar and the Bahujan Samaj Party's Anis Ahmed Khan, both former ministers.

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