Lok Sabha Elections 2024: 'Chai pe charcha' on Ganga ghats is the ebbing of Modi’s vote margin

The Lok Sabha constituency of PM Modi, focuses not on the upcoming electoral battle on June 1 but on whether Modi will be able to increase his margin of victory.
Last Updated : 30 May 2024, 10:15 IST
Last Updated : 30 May 2024, 10:15 IST

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Varanasi: Discussions over tea at 'Pappu ki Ari’ at Assi Ghat or at the eateries selling the delicious ‘kachoris’ near Godoulia in Varanasi, the Lok Sabha constituency of PM Modi, focuses not on the upcoming electoral battle on June 1 but on whether Modi will be able to increase his margin of victory.

‘’Yehan ladai jeetne ya harne ki nahin hain.....yahan ladai margin ki hai,’’ (the fight is not for winning or losing....the fight is for the margin), says Ram Kumar Tewari, a local, as he carefully puts the ‘kimam’ (liquid tobacco mixed with dry tobacco leaves) laden betel in the corner of his mouth at the shop of Gamma in Goudoulia.

Krishna Kumar Upadhyaya, a resident of Manduadih locality, also echoes similar sentiments. ‘’The rival candidates are no match for Modi,’’ he said. UP Congress president Ajay Rai is the nominee of the I.N.D.I.A. bloc. BSP has fielded Atahar Jamal Lari.

The grand Kashi Vishwanath Temple, wide roads, flyovers, and beautification of the Ganga Ghats stands as testimony to the development of the town in the past 10 years.

Modi had won this seat by more than 4.79 lakh votes in 2019 LS poll. He had secured more than 6.74 lakh (63.6 per cent) votes. His nearest rival Shalini Yadav of Samajwadi Party had received 1.95 lakh votes while Congress’ Ajay Rai secured a little over 1.52 lakh votes.

However, the SP and Congress have an alliance this time which has propelled talks over the margin.

A simple mathematical calculation will reveal a reduction in Modi’s ‘margin of victory' which will be 'humiliating' for the BJP leaders.

Thus, it is not surprising at all that the BJP has summoned workers and leaders from across the country. MPs, MLAs and ministers from states where elections have already been held, have arrived with the twin objectives of increasing the polling percentage and ensuring Modi’s victory by a record margin.

‘’We can win without campaigning here....so much work has been done in Varanasi that the people will ensure a landslide win for the prime minister,’’ said a local BJP leader.

A few days ago, the prime minister held a roadshow in the town which witnessed participation of a large number of people though not all of them were said to be the voters in the constituency.

BJP has woven a successful caste combination in this constituency, where the OBC voters, especially kurmis number around two lakh. The saffron party has an alliance with the Apna Dal (AD), a predominantly ‘kurmi’ outfit, which wields considerable influence over them.

BJP is aiming to get the support of 75 per cent Hindus and the 2019 LS polls result shows that the saffron party may have bagged a huge majority of their votes. ‘’A majority of the Yadavs, who number around one lakh here and the Muslims, who form 20 per cent of the electorate, may have voted for the SP,’’ said the BJP leader.

Rai is banking on the support of the Muslims, Yadavs and the Congress’ traditional voters, who, he says, are from every section of the society. Though BSP has fielded a Muslim, the community appears to be rooting for the I.N.D.I.A. alliance.

Notwithstanding the claims of overwhelming support among the electorate, especially Hindus, there is a section which appears to be opposed to the way this religious town is being developed.

‘’Varanasi was known for its temples and lanes....people flocked here from across the world to see the religious places and its culture..... it now looks more like a tourist destination,’’ said a local resident. A section of the traders, whose shops were demolished for the Kashi Vishwanath Temple Corridor, are also angry with the saffron party.

The I.N.D.I.A alliance—though claims that the result will be different this time—will be looking to reduce Modi’s victory margin.

SP president Akhilesh Yadav and senior Congress leader Rahul Gandhi had addressed an election rally a few days ago. Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra and Akhilesh’s wife Dimple Yadav also held a joint roadshow in support of Ajay Rai.

Polling will be held on June 1 in the final phase of the LS elections and it will be interesting to see if Modi’s victory margin increases.

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Published 30 May 2024, 10:15 IST

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