FLANKED by top leaders of the National Democratic Alliance who sought to present a picture of unity and strength, Prime Minister Narendra Modi filed his nomination papers Friday for the Varanasi Lok Sabha constituency.
Speaking with media persons after filing the nomination, Modi asked voters not to take the bait when people say it is alright not to vote since he (Modi) has already won. “You must cast your vote to strengthen democracy and form a strong government,” he said.
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Citing a cricket analogy, Modi said just like no one makes money in a World Cup if India and Pakistan don’t fight, media believes that he (Modi) has won the elections. “Kis party se kaun ummeedwar hai, yeh hai, woh nahi hai, falana nahi hai, dhikana nahi hai, woh lamba hai, woh kala hai, woh gora hai, woh tedha hai, woh meda hai, kripa karke aisi charcha mat karen (We should not debate about the candidates in the fray, and what their attributes are),” Modi said, adding every candidate is contesting to strengthen democracy.
Addressing party workers before filing his nomination, Modi targeted the West Bengal government and said that BJP workers in the state were working in terror of “bomb, bandook and pistaul” (bomb, guns and pistols). “When a BJP worker in West Bengal and Kerala steps out on party work, he tells his mother that if he does not return home alive in evening, she should send his younger brother for the same work next day,” he said.
In West Bengal, Modi alleged, if a person works for BJP, his family members are hanged to death on trees to spread terror among others. “People in Varanasi do not face such problems,” he said, adding election was not any war but a festival of democracy and the focus should be on winning people’s hearts, and not defeating others.
Referring to instances of violence reported in West Bengal during polls, Modi said there should be no violence and clashes anywhere. He told BJP workers to set an example for other parties to follow. “Harmony should be maintained between political rivals too,” he said. Speaking to media after filing his nomination, the Prime Minister asked voters not to fall into the trap of those who say he has already won the election, and so it is fine not to vote. In his address to workers earlier at a hotel compound, Modi said media losing interest in Varanasi was the biggest threat. Modi’s remark apparently was in reference to the Congress party’s decision not to field its General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra against him. Congress has declared Ajay Rai as candidate.
Without naming anyone, he said, nobody should believe he is everything and has all knowledge. “You have seen the plight of those who made ‘hekdi’ (one who claims he is everything). They are down from 400 to 40. We should not make such hekdi. We have to contest the election politely with folded hands,” Modi said, adding, “We have to bring bhaichara (brotherhood) and affection back.”
Before filing the nomination, the Prime Minister was welcomed at the Collectorate campus in Varanasi by a galaxy of top BJP and NDA leaders. Besides BJP President Amit Shah and Cabinet ministers Nitin Gadkari, Rajnath Singh, Sushma Swaraj, top NDA leaders such as Nitish Kumar, Parkash Singh Badal, Uddhav Thackeray and Ram Vilas Paswan.
Modi touched Badal’s feet as he met the NDA leaders. He also touched the feet and sought blessings of Annapurna Shukla, former Principal, Banaras Hindu University, one of the four persons who proposed him as the BJP candidate for Varanasi. The other three were ‘Dom Raja’ and ‘chief cremator’ Jagdish Chowdhary, from the family which lights every funeral pyre in the town, long-time BJP worker Subhash Chander Gupta and agriculture scientist Ram Shanker Patel.