Updated: May 23, 2019 8:40:29 pm
Surpassing his record win of 3.37 lakh votes in 2014 general elections, BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi was reelected in his Lok Sabha constituency Varanasi by a margin of nearly 4.80 lakh votes. Shalini Yadav, the SP-BSP Mahagathbandhan candidate is second, while Congress’ Ajay Rai is trailing at third position.
Interestingly, the BJP was seemingly so confident of a win in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections from Varanasi that the Prime Minister did not address even a single public campaign rally here. He only came to file his nomination and held a massive roadshow prior to that.
When he filed his papers, Modi, who calls himself a “Kashi vasi”, was flanked by top NDA leaders – Amit Shah, Uddhav Thackeray, Prakash Singh Badal, Ram Vilas Paswan, Rajnath Singh, among others — in a show of strength. Expressing his gratitude to the people, the PM had urged the voters to come out in large numbers. “Don’t stay away thinking I am winning,” he appealed.
People of Kashi are remarkable! When I had gone to Kashi to file my nomination papers, they confidently said that they would manage the entire campaign without me having to come back even once…and manage they did! I bow to the citizens of Kashi. Looking forward to serving them.
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) May 23, 2019
In Varanasi this time, there were at least 23 other candidates in the fray, which included a disgruntled Nizamabad farmer, a lawyer, an agricultural scientist, and daughter of an Olympian.
Even before Modi, Varanasi had been a BJP stronghold, with the party retaining it consistently since 1991 except in 2004, when the Congress’s Rajesh Kumar Mishra had won.
Lok Sabha Elections 2019 | Polling schedule, results date, constituency-wise election results, key candidates
Varanasi, which went to polls on May 19 during the last phase of Lok Sabha polls, saw a voter turnout of 57.81 per cent. A majority of the voters in Varanasi constituency are upper-caste Hindus, including Brahmins, Bhumihars, Jaiswals, followed by Muslims and OBCs.
Speculation over Modi vs Priyanka Gandhi contest
Speculation was rife that Priyanka Gandhi will take on Narendra Modi in his constituency. The East Uttar Pradesh General Secretary later clarified that she did not contest from Varanasi as other Congress candidates “who are waiting for her to campaign in their constituencies would be disappointed if she focused only on one constituency.” “I didn’t pull out. I took the advice of senior leaders and my colleagues in Uttar Pradesh.”
The temple town was also in news after 111 farmers from Tamil Nadu and 54 farmers from Nizamabad announced their decision to fight against Modi to highlight their plight and demands. Fifty-four farmers from Nizamabad had gone to Varanasi to file nomination papers. However, only 25 were able to do so, out of which only one nomination was accepted. Four farmers from Tamil Nadu who went on a similar quest to Varanasi had returned without filing their papers.
Sacked BSF constable Tej Bahadur Yadav’s candidature on a Mahagathbandhan ticket was cancelled after the Election Commission junked his nomination over “discrepancies” in his papers. The Supreme Court also upheld the EC’s decision. Yadav hit the headlines in 2017 when he posted a video on social media complaining about the quality of food being served to troops. He was later dismissed from the BSF for indiscipline.
What happened in 2014 elections in Varanasi?
In 2014, Narendra Modi was pitted against 41 candidates. At that Modi won the seat with a landslide margin of nearly 3.37 lakh votes against Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal- the highest ever vote margin for the Lok Sabha seat. His margin of victory was so huge that many candidates had to lose their deposits. The other major players in the contest – Ajay Rai of Congress, Vijay Kumar Jaiswal of BSP and Kailash Chaurasia of Samajwadi Party – were made to bite the dust with none of them securing more than one-sixth of the total number of votes. In 2014, Rai managed to finish third with just 75,000 votes and had to forefit his election deposit.
Even during the 2017 Assembly elections, the BJP had triumphed in Varanasi Lok Sabha seat, winning four of the five segments falling under it, with its ally Apna Dal winning the fifth.
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