Battleground Varanasi: Everything you want to know
Varanasi, the holy town on the banks of the Ganges, has become the hotbed of Indian politics this elections. While the BJP has fielded its PM candidate Narendra Modi from the constituency, Arvind Kejriwal, who has certainly added a new dimension to the Indian polity, has decided to pose a contest against the Gujarat Chief Minister. The Congress, however, is yet to decide on its candidate from Varanasi. Though Congress legislator Ajai Rai has emerged as the frontrunner to be pitted against Modi, other names like Digvijaya Singh and Anand Sharma have also been doing rounds.
Here is a compilation of all the aspects of the political battle in one of the oldest living cities in the world:
Arvind Kejriwal on Tuesday announced his candidature for the Varanasi Lok Sabha seat and challenged Narendra Modi to a debate on various issues, including development in Gujarat. The announcement came at the end of a day that Kejriwal began with a dip in the Ganga, and which saw him being targeted with eggs and black ink by protesters ahead of the evening’s election meeting.
Congress legislator Ajai Rai has emerged the frontrunner to take on Narendra Modi in Varanasi, although the party is still exploring the option of fielding a Brahmin candidate. In a constituency with large populations of Brahmin, Muslim, Vaishya and Patel voters, the Congress has its eye set on the first two groups.
After his roadshow and rally in Varanasi, Arvind Kejriwal met maulana Abdul Nomani, the district’s sheher-e-mufti or Muslim religious head, who asked him to promise he would take care of Varanasi whether he wins or loses.
A symbol of Hinduism yet populated by a large number of Muslims, a city struck by terror but crying for progress, Varanasi presents a study in contrast. Muslims account for three lakh of 16 lakh voters. The rest include two lakh Brahmins, 2.5 lakh Kurmi Patels, 2.5 lakh Vaishyas.
Aam Aadmi Party leader Arvind Kejriwal, who has formally declared his candidature against Narendra Modi in Varanasi, was on Tuesday greeted in the holy city with egg and ink attack. Later he addressed a political rally.