In Varanasi, widely talked about as the seat Narendra Modi could contest from, supporters of Murli Manohar Joshi have put up hundreds of hoardings and banners with slogans such as “Atankwad par lage lagaaam, Dr Joshi ka paigam”, and “Bole Kashi Vishwanath, Dr Joshi ka denge saath”. Varanasi saw terror attacks in 2006 and in 2010, hence the reference to atankwad.
The speculation has been that a candidacy for Modi here would mean Joshi, the siting MP, shifting to Kanpur. At Modi’s recent Lucknow rally, a group of party workers in the crowd chanted, “Modiji tum raaj karo, Joshiji tyag karo.”
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Hoardings by Joshi’s supporters describe the work done in the constituency from his local area development fund. They say he spent Rs 19 crore at 732 places; the slogan goes “Janata ka dhan, janata ko hisaab.”
Joshi has frequently visited Varanasi in the past two months since the party started to discuss the possibility of Modi being fielded began. Modi had addressed a Vijay Shankhnad rally there in January.
Joshi also met Mohan Bhagwat in Varanasi last month. He has been there since March 3 and called a meeting of party workers Wednesday.
Joshi could not be reached for comment. An aide said, “Who else will contest here? Joshiji has started preparations and these hoardings are part of the campaign. Only a formal announcement remains.”