High-voltage campaigning expected in Varanasi

High-voltage campaigning expected in Varanasi

High-voltage campaigning expected in Varanasi

The temple town of Varanasi, where Narendra Modi is locked in a triangular fight, is expected to witness high-voltage electioneering, with top leaders of the Congress and the BJP set to campaign for their respective candidates.

Senior Congress leaders Ghulam Nabi Azad and Mukul Wasnik are already in Varanasi, said Commerce Minister Anand Sharma, adding that he too would campaign there once again. Union minister Manish Tewari too had visited Varanasi to bat for the Congress candidate Ajay Rai.

The Congress’ star campaigner, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, who has set the trail ablaze in Amethi, has already made it clear that she would not participate in electioneering in Varanasi. 

There were reports of a possible visit by her to the famous temple dedicated to Lord Shiva in Varanasi, but it could not be confirmed.

Travel plans of Congress president Sonia Gandhi and vice-president Rahu Gandhi to Varanasi were also not immediately known.

In a boost to Rai, local strongman Mukhtar Ansari, who leads the Quami Ekta Dal, has declared his support to the Congress. 

Muslims form a sizeable chunk of the electorate in the temple town.

On the other hand, the entire top leadership of the BJP, including Murli Manohar Joshi, is expected to descend on Varanasi to campaign for its prime ministerial candidate. Joshi had to vacate Varanasi for Modi after much-publicised intra-party debates.

Besides BJP president Rajnath Singh, senior leaders Sushma Swaraj, Arun Jaitley, Shivraj Singh Chouhan, Smriti Irani and Hema Malini will be in Varanasi to campaign.

Modi himself is expected to be in town from Monday, when the campaigning for the penultimate phase concludes. Varanasi goes to polls in the last phase on May 12.

 Meanwhile, Aam Aadmi Party leader Arvind Kejriwal has launched a spirited campaign by touring the rural parts of the constituency extensively.