Thousands flock to Rahul Gandhi in Varanasi

Thousands flock to Rahul Gandhi in Varanasi

Thousands flock to Rahul Gandhi in Varanasi

Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi Saturday stormed Varanasi to rally against BJP's Lok Sabha candidate Narendra Modi, drawing thousands of supporters in the Hindu holy city.

Two days after Modi held a mammoth roadshow and a day after AAP leader Arvind Kejriwal attracted thousands, Gandhi rode on an open vehicle through the heart of Varanasi, surrounded by slogan-shouting Congress activists.

"We are confident of defeating Modi here," Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad told the media as security personnel repeatedly pushed back crowds trying to reach out to Gandhi.

Ajay Rai of the Congress is one of the two main opponents of Modi, the BJP's prime ministerial aspirant. The other is Kejriwal.

Gandhi, accompanied by Rai and other Congress leaders, waved at the crowds from his vehicle.

It was the biggest show of strength by the Congress since the election campaign got under way in Varanasi.

Gandhi's roadshow began from a Muslim-dominated area, Gol Gadda. Varanasi resident Shahid Ansari told IANS: "We are traditional supporters of the Congress. We have been voting for the party for generations. We will continue to support it."

Gandhi was showered with flowers as supporters, wearing Congress caps and donning Rahul Gandhi paper face masks, cheered him and candidate Rai.

"Ajay Rai is a local leader and we are supporting him because he will stay here and work for us," said Gopal Yadav, another resident. A Congress supporter described both Modi and Kejriwal as "outsiders".