Narendra Modi will be in Lucknow on Friday, becoming the first prime minister to visit this Uttar Pradesh capital in 11 years and help revive memories of the time when Atal Bihari Vajpayee was the prime minister.
When Modi’s special Indian Air Force (IAF) plane lands at the tarmac on the Chaudhary Charan Singh airport at Amausi in the state capital, it would be after 11 long years that a prime minister will set foot on the soil of Lucknow.
For a city that was once the parliamentary constituency of then prime minister and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) stalwart Atal Bihari Vajpayee, the four-hour-long trip of Modi has many firsts.
This would be for the first time that Modi will be visiting the state capital as prime minister, and it is also for the first time after Vajpayee’s famous 2004 drive through Hazratganj for his nomination, that a prime minister’s cavalcade would drive through the busy and famous thoroughfare.
Old timers are looking forward to Modi’s visit and say that it gives a feeling of deja vu.
“After the sun set on Vajpayee’s political career, Lucknow seemed to have lost its political prominence but today it seems that it will be salvaged some bit,” said Sharad Mishra, a resident of Hazratganj.
Modi has earlier been to Lucknow on March 2, 2014 for an election rally at the outskirts of the state capital.
Manmohan Singh visited the city as prime minister on September 1, 2005 for the inauguration of an insurance scheme.
Vajpayee last visited Lucknow on April 27, 2007 when he came to canvas for the party in the state assembly polls. He had then predicted that his age might bar him from any future trips to the city he loved so much.
But while every visit of Vajpayee drew smiles on the faces of food lovers, Modi’s trip won’t be so.
For Vajpayee loved his food and special thandai from Raja Thandai outlet would be taken for him in a thermos flask and the chaat – tikki, dahi bhalla – and some of the non-vegetarian fare was picked up for the octagenarian every time he landed in Lucknow, says an old associate.
In contrast, for Modi, the food is simple – Gujarati thepla, Khandvi and some south-Indian dishes like Uttapam, Idli and paper dosa, washed down with butter milk, after he attends the convocation of Bhim Rao Ambedkar university.