The BJP’s Punjab unit is working hard to turn Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Ferozepur on Wednesday – his first in the state linked to elections after the repeal of agricultural laws – into a show of force for the party.
Modi last visited the state in 2020, before farm ordinances were filed with the Union Cabinet on June 5 of the same year. The ordinances were later replaced by agricultural laws, resulting in a protracted protest by farmers, mainly from Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh, for more than a year at the Delhi borders.
During his visit, Modi will lay the groundwork for development projects worth over Rs 42,750 crore, including the Delhi-Amritsar-Katra highway and an ERP satellite center, in Ferozepur.
As the dates of the Assembly polls are likely to be announced soon, the Prime Minister’s visit is gaining in importance. The BJP has teamed up with former chief minister Amarinder Singh’s Punjab Lok Congress and veteran leader Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa’s SAD Sanyukt for the Punjab polls.
The BJP said on Monday that the prime minister will address a rally of nearly 3 lakhs at the rally venue which will have a covered area of 20 acres.
Punjab BJP co-organizer Dhruv Wadhwa told The Indian Express that people will come to the rally from across the state. “At least 3 lakh people will attend the rally. It will be the biggest rally in the history of Punjab. said Wadhwa.
“From Ludhiana alone, 250 buses will carry BJP supporters and workers to the rally,” said Pushpender Singal, the party’s district unit leader.
Several BJP leaders said more than 100 buses full of people are expected in each of the 23 districts.
Farmers ‘unions had earlier announced that they would protest Modi during his visit to Ferozepur, with BKU (Ugrahan), the largest farmers’ union in Punjab, declaring that they would burn effigies of the prime minister at all. district headquarters on January 5.
Wadhwa said the party was taking precautions to ensure that no such protests took place at the rally location.
“Security measures will be extremely strict. An additional layer of security will be placed both inside and outside the site, ”Wadhwa said.
Party leaders have been camping in the district for more than a week and are organizing “chai pe charcha” in various places even as the “Ferozepur Chalo” march is organized in various parts of Punjab. The slogan given by BJP is ‘Nawa Punjab Bhajpa de naal’
The BJP state unit, meanwhile, denied reports that people from Haryana and Sriganganagar district in Rajasthan were attending the rally in Ferozepur, located just 40 km from the two-state borders. The party said “only voters from Punjab” will be part of the rally.
Wadhwa also ruled out any new leader being inducted into the BJP during the prime minister’s office.
In a statement, PMO said that “in line with the Prime Minister’s efforts to provide world-class medical facilities across the country, new medical infrastructure projects in three towns in Punjab will be put in place.”
PM will lay the foundation stone for the 100 bed PGI satellite center in Ferozepur, which will be built at a cost of over Rs 490 crore. Incidentally, the project was announced by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in 2013.
Other projects for which the foundation stone will be laid include the four-track Amritsar-Una section, the Mukerian-Talwara wide gauge railway line and two new medical schools in Kapurthala and Hoshiarpur. The medical schools will be developed at a cost of around Rs 325 crore each and with a capacity of around 100 places. These colleges were approved under Phase III of the centrally sponsored program “Establishing New Colleges of Medicine attached to district / referral hospitals,” the PMO said.
“The Prime Minister’s constant efforts to improve connectivity across the country have led to several projects to develop national highways in the Punjab,” the PMO said.
This has more than doubled the total length of the state’s national highways, from about 1,700 kilometers in 2014 to over 4,100 kilometers in 2021. A step towards realizing the Prime Minister’s vision to improve the accessibility to major religious centers, PMO said.
The projects to be inaugurated
The 669 km Delhi-Amritsar-Katra highway will be developed at a cost of around Rs 39,500 crore, and it will cut travel time from Delhi to Amritsar and Delhi to Katra by half.
The new expressway will connect the main Sikh religious sites of Sultanpur Lodhi, Goindwal Sahib, Khadoor Sahib, Tarn Taran and the Hindu shrine of Vaishno Devi in Katra. The highway will also connect key economic centers like Ambala Chandigarh, Mohali, Sangrur, Patiala, Ludhiana, Jalandhar, Kapurthala, Kathua and Samba with Haryana, Chandigarh, Punjab and Jammu and Kashmir.
The four-lane section of the Amritsar-Una section will be done at a cost of approximately Rs 1700 crore. The 77 km long section is part of the larger Amritsar-Bhota corridor that crosses the longitudinal extent of northern Punjab and Himachal Pradesh, connecting four major national highways, namely the Amritsar-Bhatinda-Jamnagar Economic Corridor, Delhi-Amritsar-Katra Highway, North-South Corridor and Kangra-Hamirpur-Bilaspur-Shimla Corridor. This will help improve connectivity to religious sites in Ghoman, Shri Hargobindpur and Pulpukta Town (which is home to the famous Gurudwara Pulpukta Sahib), the PMO said.
The PM will also lay the foundation stone for a new wide gauge railway line between Mukerian and Talwara approximately 27 km long, which will be constructed at a cost of over Rs 410 crore. The railway line will be an extension of the Nangal Dam-Daulatpur Chowk railway section and will provide all-weather transportation in the region. This project is also of strategic importance as it will serve as an alternative route to Jammu and Kashmir, joining the existing Jalandhar-Jammu railway line at Mukerian. The project will prove particularly beneficial for the inhabitants of Hoshiarpur in Punjab and Una in Himachal Pradesh. This will boost tourism in the region and facilitate connectivity to hill stations as well as places of religious importance, the PMO said.