'It's a contest between a local man and tourists'

'It's a contest between a local man and tourists'

'It's a contest between a local man and tourists'

Ajai Rai, the Congress’ candidate from Varanasi, has been doing hectic campaigning in the narrow lanes of the temple town to counter the “Modi Wave”. Rai, who faces several criminal cases, is not leaving any stone unturned in making  his presence felt in the constituency. 

Rai spoke to Deccan Herald correspondent Sanjay Pandey on issues concerning his electoral prospects as well as his strategy.

Does Modi’s massive roadshow in Varanasi on Thursday reflect that he is going to have a smooth sailing here?

There were very few actual voters in Modi’s roadshow. The BJP, according to my reports, had brought people from outside only to showcase its strength here. The people of Varanasi know this.

You have several criminal cases pending against you. Will it affect your chances?

All cases against me are politically motivated. I have not been convicted in any of the cases. My political rivals have been trying to tarnish my image and are lodging fake cases against me.

How do you plan to counter Modi’s high decibel election campaign?

My campaign is going on in the lanes of Kashi (the old name of Varanasi).  Those who know Kashi know very well that it is a city of narrow lanes.

Both Modi and Aam Aadmi Party leader Arvind Kejriwal have a national appeal. How do you intend to counter it?

I belong to this city. I know every nook and corner of the temple town. I have been serving the people of Kashi for over two decades. 

I know them and they know me. It is a contest between a local man and tourists (Modi and Kejriwal). I know the issues concerning the city and the problems being faced by the people. 

Thats my advantage.

Will you seek mafia don-turned-politician and your rival Mukhtar Ansari’s support to win over the muslims here?

Muslims have always been with me. I have been working in the Muslim areas for the past several years. 

Even during clashes, I have tried to defuse the situation and have helped the Muslim community.