Varanasi turns saffron as Modi files nomination

On Thursday morning in Varanasi it was difficult not to let one’s mind get besieged with Modi's popularity

deevakar

Deevakar Anand | April 24, 2014




On Thursday the city of Varanasi came to a complete standstill. And if there was one thing that could move or, say, crawl amidst a tsunami of people on the roads, it was the convoy of BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi.

The occasion:  Modi was to file his MP nomination papers.

He did that but not before cancelling a scheduled road show as due to the crowded roads, the convoy got slow and he feared missing his 3'0 clock deadline to file the nomination papers at the collectorate.  

On Thursday morning, an estimated 30,000 people, most of them wearing identical saffron caps, gathered at the rather small area in front of the Banaras Hindu University (BHU), adjoining the city’s popular Lanka market at 8.30 AM and waited for over two hours for the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate to come. He was to garland the statue of BHU founder late Pandit Madan Mohan Malviya before heading for road shows and nomination of his MP candidature.

When he arrived, the VVIP security was thrown out of gear and men and women hopped to the cars in the convoy.

Amidst supporters and onlookers, when Modi headed towards the Kashi Vidyapeeth from where he was to head towards the city’s Mint road, only a few of those gathered at BHU gate could follow him as all the roads were jampacked by other supporters. As per estimations, over one lakh people were on streets on Modi’s convoy path in Varanasi today.

It was difficult for even journalists to follow his convoy. “You cannot move along with his convoy. There would be no space for your car to move. Unless you have another journalist colleague already waiting at the collectorate, you will not be able to cover it,” said one security officer.

If not for the lift on the bike of a local reporter and some shortcuts through extremely narrow lanes of Varanasi that took this correspondent to a flyover in front of the railway station, covering Modi’s march to the collectorate would have been impossible.

There were several college-going voters who cheered for Modi on his way to file the nomination. One such young girl, Shreeja Mishra, a first-time voter and student of social science at BHU, said she will vote for Mopdi as he “has done great development in Gujarat”.

Mishra, who is from Azamgarh, also has Modi supporters in her family.

It was learnt that along the same time Modi was on his way to the collectorate, AAP leader Arvind Kejriwal who is fighting against him from, sat on a ‘dhyan’ (meditation) at the famous Assi Ghat.

Kejriwal, who led AAP to a spectacular victory in the Delhi assembly polls in December last year, has been camping in Varanasi. In a relatively less time, he has held several road shows and corner meetings and is said to have garnered considerable support.

How much of today’s crowd that thronged to see Modi’s convoy would convert into votes and how much of fight the fledging AAP will put will be known on May 16. In Varanasi, on Thursday morning, however, it was difficult not to let one’s mind get besieged with the popularity Modi seems to enjoy here.

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