For BJP, road to Delhi is from Varanasi this time

Many Varanasi residents are now pinning all their faith on Modi, hoping his victory would catapult the city to the national map.

trithesh

Trithesh Nandan | March 19, 2014


Modi supporters in Lucknow
Photo: Trithesh Nandan

Varanasi is not an easy place to negotiate. As the city straddles the spiritual high and governance deficit, its potholed streets and traffic woes are what will greet you; and the dust on your face is what will hit you – all this amid chants of shlokas and sound of bells.

For an outsider, it gets a little suffocating – at times difficult to breathe – but that is not a deterrent in the run-up to the general elections as people troop in droves. All so suddenly, Varanasi is the place to be in – for political activists, journalists and enthusiasts alike – since the BJP announced that its PM candidate, Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi, would contest from there. And the decibel – and excitement – level got a touch shriller after Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader Arvind Kejriwal said he is likely to fight from there.

Before BJP made Modi’s candidature public, the present MP from the seat, party veteran Murli Manohar Joshi, put up a spirited show to ensure he retains candidature. As locals put it, there was virtually a tug-of-war between Joshi supporters and the Modi camp. “Even rickshaw pullers have been influencing their customers in favour of Modi,” said Alok Kumar Rai, professor of business management at the city’s renowned Benares Hindu University (BHU).

Varanasi hasn’t seen such drama in recent years – the last ‘tall’ leader to represent Varanasi was Kamalapati Tripathi of the Congress, a former chief minister of the undivided Uttar Pradesh, subsequently a union minister in the Indira Gandhi government and the Varanasi MP in 1980.

Many Varanasi residents are thus now pinning all their faith on Modi, hoping his victory would catapult the city to the national map.

Having won only 10 out of 80 seats in a state that used to be its stronghold not very long ago, the BJP, too, is pinning a lot of hope on Modi’s Varanasi fight. To misquote former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, for BJP the road to Delhi goes through Varanasi (it was Lucknow, Vajpayee’s constituency, in the BJP stalwart’s case) In the saffron party’s calculations, Modi contesting from Varanasi opens up a distinct possibility of having a sway over the Purvanchali voters – in eastern UP and adjoining parts of Bihar.

“We feel his (Modi’s) election from Varanasi would change the city’s fortunes,” as Rai put it.

In his massive rally in Varanasi last December, Modi had offer a glimpse of hope to a city battling infrastructure woes, speaking at length about development and finding the lost glory of the famed Banarasi sarees. Modi has his own supporters in Varanasi and adjoining areas. A large number of people there work in Surat and other cities of Gujarat, and they are the unofficial ambassadors of Gujarat’s ‘prosperity’ and Modi’s message of hope and change.

But with Kejriwal set to take him on in the holy city, the path may not be that smooth. "I was reading in some newspapers that it will be a symbolic fight (in Varanasi) and it is Modi who will win…. I want to tell him (Modi) that I am going (to Varanasi) not only to fight but I am going to defeat him," Kejriwal said recently in Delhi.

Kejriwal’s Twitter army was quick to fire with gusto: “Revolution in Varanasi: har har Arvind, ghar ghar Arvind”, countering the Modi brigade’s chants of “har har Modi, ghar ghar Modi”. Meanwhile, local strongman and Quami Ekta Dal leader Mukhtar Ansari’s decision to contest from the seat has added to the complexity. In 2009, Ansari had given a very tough fight to Murli Manohar Joshi.

Long ago, people of Rae Bareli and Amethi – constituencies of Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi, respectively, and considered pocket boroughs of the Gandhi family – saw hope in their MPs for development of their regions. Both still come in the category of backward districts. Many residents of Varanasi have pinned similar hope on Modi this time around. The electoral game can only get more exciting from now till the finish.

Comments

 

Other News

ONGC office wins sustainable building design award

 The state-of-the-art corporate office of oil and natural gas corporation (ONGC), Pandit Deen Dayal Uphadhayay Urja Bhawan,  in New Delhi has won leadership in energy and environmental design (LEED) India ‘platinum’ award by US green building council (USGBC), the highest recognition f

Mumbaiís changing campaign colours

Demonetisation was a factor as candidates in the fray for the Mumbai civic polls wooed people. Though the election commission doubled the expenditure limits from Rs 5 lakh to Rs 10 lakh, some candidates found the going hard as there was a weekly withdrawal limit of Rs 24,000. Rs 10 lakh is way ab

Make Godseís statement public, but donít idolise him

Nathuram Godse, who was brought up by his parents as a girl in the first few years of his life, has been reviled for decades for fatally shooting the apostle of peace Mahatma Gandhi. What Godse said during the Gandhi assassination trial has not been made public, giving rise to considerable speculation.

First coal rake flagged off from NTPCís coal block in Hazaribagh

The first coal rake of NTPC’s Pakri-Barwadih coal mine at Hazaribagh was flagged-off by finance minister Arun Jaitley, Jharkhand chief minister Raghubar Das, union minister of state for power, coal, N&RE and mines Piyush Goyal, and minister of state for civil aviation Jayant Sinha, at Ranchi on

AIMIM to contest Pune civic polls for the first time

“Our corporator is missing,” reads a banner on a defunct lamppost in Shaniwar Peth – a densely populated area in Pune, the second largest city of Maharashtra after Mumbai. Many more sprang up in the nearby alleys, a couple of months before the municipal corporation polls on February 21.&n

How a PSU takes land for mining

On October 1 last year, Mehtab Alam Ansari, 30, who worked as a tailor in Delhi, had arrived in his village, Chepa Khurd in Barkagaon tehsil of Harazibagh district, to celebrate Eid with his family. That morning, he was nearing Dadi Kalan, a neighbouring village, to meet an acquaintance when he heard gunsh

Video

रामदेव को अब 2000 का नोट पसंद नहीं
Digital Transformation Summit

Current Issue

Opinion

Facebook    Twitter    Google Plus    Linkedin    Subscribe Newsletter

Twitter