Mayawati will not hold any rally in Varanasi, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s constituency, in the first phase of her ongoing state-wide campaign. The BSP has asked its supporters and workers from four districts of Varanasi division to instead participate in her public meeting in Allahabad on Sunday.
This comes at a time when Mayawati has been devoting a major part her speeches at ongoing rallies to attack the PM and BJP. Her approach is unlike that adopted by other parties, including the Congress and the JD(U), who have chosen to take on the PM on his turf.
Both Congress president Sonia Gandhi and JD(U) chief and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar chose Varanasi as a venue to launch their attack on Modi. On Saturday, the Congress chief ministerial candidate for the 2017 polls, Sheila Dikshit, also started a three-day yatra from Varanasi.
BSP supporters from Varanasi, Ghazipur, Jaunpur and Chandauli districts will take part in the rally at Parade Ground in Allahabad, where supporters from Mirzapur and Allahabad divisions will also gather. On August 28, Mayawati had addressed a rally in Azamgarh, her first in east UP after 2014 Lok Sabha polls, instead of Varanasi, which is seen as the nerve centre of the region.
Rajya Sabha MP and party coordinator Munquad Ali declined to comment on why Varanasi was skipped as a venue for the rally, but said it was not “a big issue”, and that the party would hold a public meeting there in the future.
Sources in the party said the BSP’s poor presence in the region around Varanasi could be the reason for not choosing the district as rally venue. The party had only one MLA in Varanasi district, who was expelled, and has joined the BJP.
BSP has no MLAs in the districts of Ghazipur and Jaunpur. On the other hand, it has three seats in Allahabad district, two in Kaushambi and two in Fatehpur.
In Allahabad, the party completed its preparations for the rally on Saturday. The rally will end Mayawati’s first phase’s campaign in east UP. Her next rally will be held in western UP’s Saharanpur on September 11.