- Yogi Adityanath will lead a bike rally in Varanasi
- The BJP had won 70 of 80 Lok Sabha seats in 2014 in Uttar Pradesh
- Akhilesh Yadav has planned a number of cycle rallies in December
Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath will lead a motorcycle rally in Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Lok Sabha constituency of Varanasi on Saturday as part of the ruling BJP's efforts to drum up support for national elections next year.
Other senior party leaders, including Deputy Chief Ministers Keshav Prasad Maurya and Dinesh Sharma, will be leading similar rallies across the state on the same day.
The BJP's campaign on two-wheelers comes just days ahead of former Chief Minister and Samajwadi Party Chief Akhilesh Yadav's planned cycle rallies in December.
In the assembly elections in 2012, Mr Yadav led the Samajwadi Party's campaign with a "cycle yatra" across the state, pedalling thousands of kilometres (the cycle is his party's election symbol) . The yatra fetched him rich dividends - the party won the state with a clear majority.
Since then, it has been a downhill journey for the Samajwadi Party; his party lost the 2014 Lok Sabha polls to the BJP and was thrashed again in the 2017 state elections by the same opponent.
However, Samajwadi Party leaders believe their electoral prospects are looking up. A tie-up in the recent bypolls with former rival Mayawati's Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) resulted in big wins; both parties say they will formalise the alliance for next year's national elections.
The opposition's move will be a matter of concern for the ruling which won 70 of the 80 Lok Sabha seats in 2014.
Akhilesh Yadav was scheduled to begin his cycle yatra about a month ago, but sources in the Samajwadi Party say that plan has been pushed to December.
The yatra is likely to start from the village of a boy who was born in a queue outside a bank - during 2016's demonetisation drive - in the Kannauj district, part of a Lok Sabha seat the Samajwadi Party chief says he will contest from in 2019.
The BJP is calling its rally the Kamal Sandesh bike rally. The party says BJP workers will bring at least five motorcycles from each booth of a Lok Sabha seat for the rally. Local lawmakers too will join the rally before it culminates in each district's headquarter Saturday afternoon.
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