In a move being seen in political circles as one aimed at wooing voters of poll-bound Uttar Pradesh, Union Railways Ministry on Wednesday released a list of 25 projects and services across the state that have been inaugurated or whose foundation stones were laid this year.
UP is all set to see Assembly elections in the first few months of 2017, and all political parties — from the regional Samajwadi Party (SP) and the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) to the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party at the national level — are eyeing a slice of the pie. After all, UP has sent the largest number of prime ministers to office, including Narendra Modi, who was elected to the Lok Sabha from Varanasi in 2014.
Now, with the SP saying that it will not go into any alliance before the polls, the BJP will fancy its chances in the Assembly elections, even going so far as to dream of absolute majority in the state. After all, the Congress is weak in the state, and not showing too much of any sign of recovery despite its focus on farmers in UP.
On the other hand, the SP is besieged with infighting within its ranks, with incumbent UP Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav sparring with his uncle Shivpal Yadav on a number of issues, and Mulayam having to play peacemaker between his son and brother. The BSP can also fancy its chances, thanks to the anti-incumbency factor, which has played its role in the past few elections.
Now, the Ministry of Railways has announced a list of 25 services or projects across UP that were started or inaugurated this year. It can be seen as an effort to boost the BJP's chances in the state.
Here is the full list of the services and projects:
1-4: Inauguration of free Wi-Fi service at the Bareilly, Mathura, Varanasi and Aligarh stations
5: Inauguration of three platforms and yards at the Aligarh station
6-10: Laying of foundation stones for upgradation of passenger amenities at Akbarpur, Jaunpur, Shahganj, Pratapgarh and Jhangai stations
11-12: Laying of foundation stones of escalator and FoB at Mirzapur and Vindhyachal stations
13: Laying of foundation stones of improvised station and FoB at Robertsganj station
14-16: Laying of foundation stones for electrification of the Jafarabad-Akbarpur-Tanda section, the Chunar-Chopan line and the Utretia-Raebareli-Amethi-Janghai line
17: Commencement of work to double and electrify the Utretia- Alam Nagar bypass in Lucknow
18-19: Dedication to the nation of the newly-electrified routes of Rosa-Sitapur and Sitapur-Burhwal
20: Dedication to the nation of electronic interlocking at Aligarh
21-23: Laying of foundation stones for doubling of Rosa-Sitapur line, Sitapur-Burhwal line and the Mathura Jhansi third line
24: Start of work to double the lines between the Raebareli and Amethi stations
25: Extending the existing Agra Cantt-Etawah DEMU Train upto Mainpuri via the newly-constructed Etawah-Karhal-Mainpuri Broad Gauge section
With both Congress and SP pocket boroughs targeted by the move, it now remains to be seen if the gamble pays off for the BJP.