Indian Express

In Modi’s sweep, a ground for AAP’s alternative politics

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An illuminated lotus flower floating in Ganga in Varanasi on Friday.PRAVEEN KHANNA An illuminated lotus flower floating in Ganga in Varanasi on Friday. PRAVEEN KHANNA

Around 11 pm Friday, well after the sound of crackers went silent, several BJP men assembled at Assi Ghat with a strange prop — brooms. They moved around and cleaned the ghat, exactly in the fashion AAP volunteers were seen doing along the river a few days ago.
They, however, did not mock at AAP president Arvind Kejriwal’s loss against Narendra Modi and only said: “Broom is not the monopoly of any party. We are cleaning the area for tomorrow.”

Modi is scheduled to hold ‘Ganga Aarti’ at the ghat Saturday, a prayer he had not offered on May 8 when he held a rally in the constituency.

Modi polled 5.8 lakh votes and his victory margin over Kejriwal was about 3.7 lakh votes. Modi’s blitzkrieg ensured all other candidates lost their deposits. Congress’s Ajai Rai could secure just 75,614 votes.

Modi’s massive win has also raised the expectations of the city suffering from massive power cuts and little job opportunities. Nearly 75 per cent of the city’s population is involved in weaving and they work under difficult condition.

As BJP celebrates its victory, Modi might keep Varanasi among its top priorities. A holy city, which has now elected a BJP MP in six of the last seven elections, is crumbling under its own spirit.

For the AAP, the result underlined the idea of an alternative politics the party is trying to follow. Without any base in a constituency, where two of the five constituencies are rural, the AAP worked overnight and Kejriwal secured more votes than the last BJP winner Murli Manohar Joshi had received. What went against him was his Delhi stint as people often questioned his non-serious approach and rivals termed him a “bhagoda (deserter)”.

Kejriwal Friday noted he would not leave Kashi and visit the city soon. The BJP has already indicated Modi would retain Varanasi and leave Vadodara. If Kejriwal also makes Varanasi his base and works in the constituency as he did during the election then he would emerge as a significant opposition in the city and Varanasi could see an exciting debate between the two leaders over the next five years.

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