Following Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s decision to attend Ravidas Jayanti programme in Varanasi on February 22, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal too will be in the city on the same day to offer prayers at Ravidas Temple.
The two leaders had contested the Varanasi Lok Sabha elections in 2014 with the PM emerging victorious in the end. It will be Kejriwal’s first visit to Varanasi after Lok Sabha polls.
Also, both the PM and Delhi CM will be attending Ravidas Jayanti programmes in Varanasi for the first time. While Modi is proposed to address a public gathering of Ravidas followers near the temple, the Aam Aami Party (AAP) UP unit has not yet received a detailed programme from Kejriwal.
“Arvind Kejriwal is visiting Varanasi on Ravidas Jayanti to offer prayer at Ravidas temple. But a detailed programme of his entire schedule is yet to be received,” said Vaibhav Maheshwari, AAP’s UP spokesperson.
Kejriwal’s Varanasi visit is significant because more than one lakh dalit Ramdasia Sikhs from Punjab will be in Varanasi on Ravidas Jayanti to offer prayer at Ravidas Temple and AAP is focusig on Punjab ahead of state Assembly polls. Maheshwari said the party has started its campaign in Punjab and party leaders are touring the state regularly.
Also, AAP has planned to contest UP Assembly polls for which the BJP is working hard to attract Dalit voters through participating in Ravidas Jayanti celebrations in Varanasi and running interactive sessions in salums.
According to party leaders, more than one lakh dalit Sikhs (also called Ramdasia Sikhs) from Punjab reach Ravidas Temple in Seer Govardhan area of Varanasi every year. These followers of Ravidas also take out religious procession from Ravidas temple in the city. Ravidasis will start reaching Varanasi from February 20 and they will stay their till February 22 or 23.
Sources in BJP said that PM will address a gathering of Ravidasi and BJP workers have been involved in preparations to attract dalit voters for UP and Punjab Assembly polls.
But AAP spokesperson claimed that Kejriwal’s visit will not be for political gains. Maheshwari said, “Arvind Kejriwal does not use name of saints and great men for politics. He raises only public related issues.”