Prime Minister Narendra Modi is scheduled to address nine election rallies in support of BJP- Shiv Sena-led alliance candidates during campaigning for the October 21 assembly polls in Maharashtra, where the saffron front is seeking a second straight term in office.
BJP president Amit Shah, another star campaigner of the saffron alliance, is slated to address 18 rallies starting from Latur district this week, party sources said. Abhimanyu Pawar, former personal assistant of Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, is the BJP candidate from Ausa in Latur district.
The BJP sources said PM Modi will kick-off his campaignwith a rally in Jalgaon in North Maharashtra on October 13 followed by a second public meeting at Sakoli in Bhandara district of Vidarbha the same day.
BJP MLC and Minister of State for PWD and Forests Parinay Fuke is contesting from Sakoli. He was elected to the upper house from the Bhandara-Gondia local area constituency in December 2016.
PM Modi will address three rallies on October 16 at Akola, Partur (Jalna district) and Panvel (Navi Mumbai) followed by public meetings in Parli (Beed district), Satara and Pune on October 17, the sources said.
The bypoll for the Satara Lok Sabha constituency is also scheduled along with the assembly elections. The BJP has fielded ex-NCP MP Udayanraje Bhosale from Satara and his main rival is Shriniwas Patil of the Sharad Pawar-led party.
The last election rally of the prime minister will be in Mumbai on October 18, just two days before the polling, the sources said.
There are 288 assembly seats in Maharashtra of which the BJP is contesting 164 constituencies and the Shiv Sena 124. The BJP has given some seats from its quota to the smaller allies of the saffron alliance.
The campaigning for assembly polls will end on the evening of October 19 and votes will be counted on October 24. State BJP president Chandrakant Patil had on Sunday said a chunk of Shah''s rallies will take place in western Maharashtra, considered a bastion of the Congress-NCP combine.
Addressing a party meeting in Mumbai last month, Shah had indicated that scrapping of Jammu and Kashmir's special status will be one of the key poll planks for the ruling front.
In his rally in Nashik last month, the PM had blamed the Congress for the plight of Kashmiris for decades and called for making efforts to create a "new paradise" in the Valley after withdrawal of J&K's special status under Article 370.
In the 2014 polls, the BJP and the Sena had contested separately and won 122 and 63 seats, respectively. The Uddhav Thackeray-led party later joined the Fadnavis government. The NDA is facing challenges mainly from the opposition Congress-NCP combine though some smaller parties are also in the fray.
In the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, the BJP had bagged 23 seats, while the Sena emerged victorious in 18 constituencies. The state has 48 Lok Sabha seats, the highest after Uttar Pradesh (80).