VARANASI IS set to become a platform for political parties to attract Dalit voters, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal visiting Guru Ravidas Temple at Seer Govardhanpur in Varanasi on the occasion of Ravidas Jayanti on Monday.
The BSP too is making preparations in adjoining Chandauli district to celebrate Ravidas Jayanti at a grand scale. The party is organising an event at Uphr Nagar industrial area, which Leader of Opposition Swami Prasad Maurya will attend.
Samajwadi Party, meanwhile, will celebrate Ravidas Jayanti on Monday for the first time. SP national president Mulayam Singh Yadav and Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav are likely to attend an event being organised by the SP’s SC/ST Cell in Lucknow.
BJP’s Kashi unit has deployed its workers across the city to welcome Raidasis (followers of Ravidas). While several Dalits, including cobblers, have been felicitated by the party before Ravidas Jayanti, workers would polish shoes of Raidasis on Monday. Earlier, the PM was scheduled to reach Varanasi on Monday morning. However, he reached his Lok Sabha constituency on Sunday night and stayed at the DLW guest house. According to the district administration, Minister Durga Prasad would receive the PM in Varanasi.
On Monday morning, the PM will pay a short visit to Ravidas temple. Union Minister for Social Justice Thawar Chand Gehlot is likely to be present with his MoS, Vijay Sampla, who had reached Varanasi on Sunday. Later, the PM would go to Banaras Hindu University (BHU) to attend its centenary year convocation. As the chief guest, he would deliver the convocation address. HRD Minister Smriti Irani will also be present at the event.
While the PM is scheduled to leave BHU campus by a helicopter at 12.40 pm to reach Varanasi airport, Kejriwal is scheduled to land at the airport at 12 pm. Kejriwal is scheduled to spend around an hour at the temple, meet Raidasis and eat langar with them. “Kejriwal is scheduled to spending more time with Raidasis compared to Modi. Kejriwal had planned his Varanasi visit after Modi… this gives an indication he wants to challenge the BJP in upcoming Punjab polls. Thousands of Raidasis from Punjab will visit the temple on Monday,” said a AAP leader.
AAP spokesperson Vaibhav Maheshwari, however, said Kejriwal’s visit would be non-political. This would be the first time that Kejriwal would visit Varanasi after he lost the constituency to Modi in the last Lok Sabha polls.
The race among parties to attract Dalit voters is becoming significant ahead of the 2017 polls. The Congress too had recently orgnaised a Dalit conclave in Lucknow, which was addressed by party vice-president Rahul Gandhi.