Opposition parties are crying foul over Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s proposed public rally at Khekra town in Baghpat district on 27 May, a day ahead of the byelections to the Kairana Lok Sabha seat and the Noorpur Assembly constituency. The PM will address the rally after inaugurating the Eastern Peripheral Expressway on 27 May.

Opposition parties have said this is an attempt by the BJP to catch the attention of voters. BJP leaders and workers are going all out to ensure the success of the rally. After the setback in the Gorakhpur and Phulpur Lok Sabha byelections, the BJP is not taking any chances. The party is hoping Modi’s visit to Khekhra a day before polling will do the trick and ensure victory for them.

The BJP is banking on Modi’s popularity to be a driving force for party supporters to come out and cast their votes. Low turnout in Gorakhpur and Phulpur is cited as the main reason for the defeat of the BJP.

At his rally in Khekra, the PM is likely to project the inauguration of the expressway as another landmark of development in BJP rule. “We are contesting this election on the issues of development and law and order,” said the BJP’s west UP president Ashwani Tyagi.

Countering the BJP’s claims of development, RLD spokesperson Sunil Rohta said people are forced to travel on the potholed Delhi-Shamli road while BJP is trying to portray itself as a development-oriented party. Raising the issue of payment of sugar cane arrears, Rohta said over Rs 700 crore is due for three sugar mills of Kairana constituency.

BJP leaders are optimistic that the PM will make some announcement for farmers on 27 May. West UP is an agriculture belt and sugarcane is a major cash crop in the region. The Opposition is taking on the BJP on issues of farmers, especially pending payment of sugarcane dues. The state government’s sugarcane minister Suresh Rana is an MLA from Thanabhawan which falls in Kairana Lok Sabha constituency.

The Kairana Lok Sabha seat and the Noorpur Assembly constituency after the deaths of the incumbent MP and MLA. In Kairana the BJP has fielded Mriganka Singh, daughter of the late MP Hukum Singh in the hope of cashing in on the sympathy factor. She, however, is facing a strong challenge from Tabassum Hasan, former MP and wife of late MP Munnawar Hasan. Tabassum is a candidate of RLD supported by SP, Congress and BSP.

Campaigning vigorously in favour of the party candidate, RLD chief Ajit Singh, son of Chaudhary Charan Singh, has appealed to people to vote in favour of party candidate Tabassum. Kairana has an over 2 lakh electorate and most of them were traditional supporters of the RLD. But after the riots of Muzaffarnagar in 2013 a sizeable section of Jat voters deserted Ajit Singh and his son Jayant Choudhary and voted for the BJP.

By entering into an alliance with SP for this byelection Ajit Singh and Jayant are confident of the revival of the party and are working hard to ensure their victory.

However, the visit of the PM night dampen their prospects. Campaigning will end on 26 May and the PM’s visit has been planned on 27 May, which cannot be a coincidence, said an RLD leader.

Kairana is adjacent to Baghpat where the PM is coming on 27 May. Noorpur seat is also in the region and is likely to be affected as well. Here BJP’s Avni Singh, wife of deceased party MP Lokendra Singh, is facing Naemul Hasan of SP, supported by RLD.