Modi takes it upon himself to protect Varanasi bastion

Modi takes it upon himself to protect Varanasi bastion

After sweating it out as the BJP’s star campaigner for the rest of Uttar Pradesh, Prime Minister Narendra Modi did not leave his own parliamentary constituency of Varanasi to the party.

He approached the people of Varanasi as an MP and not the prime minister, quipped a local BJP leader, even as Modi toiled hard over the past three days before winding up the campaigning on Monday.

On Wednesday, the city, along with seven adjoining districts goes to polls to elect 40 candidates to the state Assembly.

Businessman Ravi Kumar, a resident of Ram Katora, said: “Ideally, Modi should not have worked so hard on his own seat after becoming the prime minister. But he had to stick his neck out to cover up for the bad selection of candidates by the BJP on seats that had been saffron bastions for decades.”

Since Saturday, Modi has held two roadshows, sought blessings of Lord Shiva, visited the Gadhwa ashram and fed cows,  and paid tribute at former prime minister Lal Bahadur Shastri’s memorial.

He also addressed two gatherings in the pilgrimage city, which according to BJP election managers, was an attempt to maximise gains.

Modi took along Varanasi South MLA Shyamdev Roy Chaudhary, fondly known as Dada, to seek blessings of Lord Shiva at the Baba Vishwanath temple on Saturday. This gesture carried an implicit message for the voters: he was with the seven-time MLA, who was dropped from the contest this time; and this epitomises the theory of the wrong selection of candidates in Varanasi.

The BJP fielded Saurabh Shrivastava from Varanasi Cantonment, replacing his mother and sitting MLA Jyotsana Shrivastava, which too did not go down well with local party leaders and workers. Her husband Harishchand Shrivastava had retained this seat from 1971. The party, however, has renominated MLA Ravindra Jaiswal in Varanasi North.

The other two seats – Rohania and Sewapuri – were pocketed by the SP in the 2012 polls. The five Assembly segments make up the Varanasi Lok Sabha seat.

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