Modi’s visit to Shimla to sound the bugle of the poll

By Vishal Gulati

Shimla, May 29 (IANS): Ahead of Assembly polls later this year, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who often recalls his special connection to Himachal Pradesh, is trying to keep his party’s ‘twin-powered government’ on track by recapping the milestones achieved by the state through the Centre’s welfare programs.

It’s also a chance for the Prime Minister to get nostalgic while reminiscing about his early years hanging out at The Mall and the iconic Indian Coffee House with his journalist friends.

However, a big reception awaits Modi’s one-day visit to the ‘Queen of the Hills’ – as Shimla was affectionately called by British colonial leaders, on May 31 to sound the bugle of the ballot in the state, the state said on Sunday. a top BJP leader. .

Preparations are underway with Chief Minister Jairam Thakur along with other BJP leaders making every effort to make the visit a memorable one just ahead of the BJP-led Shimla Municipal Corporation elections.

It will be Modi’s first visit to Shimla after December 27, 2017, the day his party’s government took over as head of state. He last addressed the public meeting here on April 27, 2017, after launching the UDAN Centre’s subsidized regional air connectivity program, or “Ude Desh ka Har Nagarik”.

According to the programme, Modi will virtually address the beneficiaries of central government projects to mark the eighth anniversary of his rule from the historic crest – once the promenade of British colonial rulers when this city was their summer capital.

Later he will address a public meeting, which will likely see over 50,000 party workers in attendance from there.

The party mobilized the people to warmly welcome the Prime Minister from the Central Telegraph Office (CTO) to the Ridge as he comes to address the beneficiaries.

The city is getting a makeover, some roads have been resurfaced and electricity poles on the way to the ridge, which are otherwise in poor condition, painted to make them look majestic at the eleventh hour.

Marking Modi’s ambitious Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, a cleanliness campaign is underway. “In Shimla, we have taken over the cleanliness of public places because the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan is the central program of the Indian government,” BJP leader Avinash Rai Khanna told IANS.

BJP State General Secretary Trilok Jamwal said it was a matter of pride that Modi chose Shimla for the rally on the occasion of the completion of eight years of Union government.

“Himachal is our prime minister’s second home and he is always delighted to visit it. The people of Himachal Pradesh are delighted to welcome Modi during his visit,” said Jamwal, who is also a political adviser to the chief minister.

BJP media officer Karan Nanda told IANS that due to a rainfall forecast by the local Met Office on May 31, a backup venue for the Prime Minister has been set up in Peterhoff. , a state-run guest house. hotel which had witnessed the trial of Mahatma Gandhi’s assassin, Nathu Ram Godse, from 1948 to 1949.

BJP leaders expect Modi to stage a tour in a cavalcade on The Mall from the General Post Office instead of the rally as it is a vehicle-free zone.

But why Shimla’s Mall Road, which has several British-era heritage buildings in typical Tudor style – all timber frames and shingle eaves, is special for Prime Minister Modi.

Alumni remember that on his previous visits, Modi never missed an opportunity to stop at the popular Indian Coffee House cafe on The Mall and sip a cup of coffee.

On his previous visit in December 2017, on his way to the airstrip, Modi’s cavalcade pulled up outside Indian Coffee House and spent over 10 minutes enjoying a cup of coffee as Hundreds of BJP workers and others gathered there.

“In Shimla, I enjoyed the coffee at the Indian Coffee House and remembered the good old days. The coffee tastes the same as it did two decades ago when I used to go to Himachal to party,” Modi had said in a tweet.

In another tweet, he thanked the residents of Shimla for the warm welcome.

Armed with mobile phones, Modi was mobbed by fans as they tried to take selfies with him outside the Indian Coffee House established in 1943.

Shimla’s famous cafe has seen many high-profile customers – the late Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and former Deputy Prime Minister LK Advani.

While studying in India, former Afghan President Hamid Karzai was also a frequent visitor.

Modi, during his previous visit here, recalled that he used to spend hours at the Coffee House with his journalist friends to keep tabs on political developments in the state.

At one of the public gatherings here, Modi had said, “Sitting at the Indian Coffee House with my journalist friends, I used to catch a glimpse of political developments in the state.”

Modi had added in a lighter vein that he had never paid for the coffee he had. His journalist friends paid the bill.

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