Shimla, April 23
A grand reception awaits Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s day-long visit to the “Queen of Hills” — as Shimla was fondly called by the British colonial rulers — this week to launch an air connectivity scheme and sound the poll bugle in the state, a BJP leader said on Sunday.
This will be Modi’s second visit to Himachal Pradesh since he became the Prime Minister in May 2014. Himachal Pradesh is scheduled to go to the polls in November. Modi will hold a massive roadshow, besides launching the Centre’s subsidised air regional connectivity scheme UDAN, or “Ude Desh ka Har Nagarik”, building efficient regional air connectivity, from here on April 27. Later, he will address a public meeting, which is likely to see participation of over one lakh party workers, at the historic Ridge — once the promenade for the British colonial rulers when this city was their summer capital. “Prime Minister Modi will land at the Jubbarhatti airport near Shimla around 11 a.m. and launch the UDAN scheme,” former state Health Minister Rajeev Bindal, who is in charge of the Prime Minister’s ally said. Bindal said after inaugurating the maiden regional connectivity Shimla-Delhi flight from the airport, located 2,196 metres above sea-level, Modi will start his roadshow from Chaura Maidan to the Ridge, the rally venue, 3 km away. The Shimla airport has been shut for scheduled flights since September 6, 2012, affecting tourists and business travellers to the state. The Prime Minister will also flag off the regional connectivity Nanded-Mumbai-Hyderabad ‘UDAN’ flight in Maharashtra and Katappa-Hyderabad flight in Karnataka from Jubbarhatti through video-conferencing, Union Civil Aviation Secretary R.K. Choubey said. Union Health Minister J.P. Nadda, who is reaching here on Monday to oversee the preparations for the rally, and two-time former Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal would accompany Modi. State Bharatiya Janata Party media in-charge Karan Nanda told IANS that from the airport, Modi will reach Chaura Maidan by a helicopter. BJP leaders are planning that Modi will take a short stroll on the Mall from the General Post Office to the rally venue as this is vehicle-free zone. Marking Modi’s ambitious “Swachh Bharat Abhiyan”, the state BJP on Sunday launched a ‘Clean up Shimla’ campaign. State Commissioner of Tourism and Civil Aviation Dinesh Malhotra said tickets for the inaugural flight would cost Rs 1,920. He said a regular flight, which will operate five days in a week from Wednesday, will depart at 6.10 a.m. from Delhi and will arrive here at 7.25 a.m. On the same day, it will depart at 7.45 a.m. from Shimla and will return to Delhi at 8.45 a.m.
Shimla, April 23