In Uttar Pradesh, where the “election tourism” season is in full bloom, Varanasi has attracted leaders of all political parties, thanks to Narendra Modi, BJP’s PM nominee, contesting from there. Gujarat Pradesh Congress president Arjun Modhwadia and AICC Minority Department chief Khurshid Saiyed have also been campaigning in the temple town. The state Congress unit feels that the competition — between the BJP, Congress and AAP — in Varanasi is quite tough.
“After the truth has come out about Modi over the last few days in this constituency, the hype created by him is fizzling out and the BJP has started realising that the competition is not as easy as it was thought to be. It’s going to be tough,” feels Modhwadia, who was camping in Varanasi till Wednesday. Modhwadia does not see a chance either for the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) or the Samajwadi Party (SP).
Modhwadia said the antics of “guru-chela” (Modi-Shah) were exposed towards the fag end of election campaign which has left the voters disenchanted. “In Varanasi, people wonder how is it that Modi suddenly remembers Varanasi, a city that suffered neglect in the NDA rule,” Modhwadia says. He said that the BJP workers from Gujarat, who knew local people, swarmed the town, led by former MP Harin Pathak. “But bringing large mobs to public meetings from outside is no guarantee for victory in an election and this holds true for every political party,” he said.
He said that out of 16 lakh voters, 2.50 lakh were from the minority community. To work among them, Saiyed and Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation Opposition Leader Badruddin Shaikh reached Varanasi on Wednesday with a couple of local councillors. Prior to this, GPCC worker Kaleem Siddiqui and Thasra cleric Mehdi Hasan Baba, who had offered skullcap to Modi during his Sadbhavana fast in 2011, had also landed in Varanasi with some friends.
Saiyed and Shaikh, who reached Varanasi on Wednesday, said they would start meeting people at night and address a number of public meetings in Muslim areas. They admitted that a major challenge was to counter the influence of Arvind Kejriwal among Muslim voters, who have shown a visible tilt in his favour.