In Varanasi, its a fight over Modi's margin of victory

Modi, in his message to the electorate of Varanasi, and also in his election rallies, urged them to exercise their franchise in large numbers. (PTI)

Chewing the famous 'Banarasi Paan' (betel leaf with areca nut) at Assi, near the Ganga, 50-year old Anurag Yadav becomes agitated, when asked about the development works undertaken in the temple city by local MP and prime minister Narendra Modi.

''Not much has changed here in the last five years....some roads have been widened but Ganga continues to be polluted...sewage water is still falling in the river,'' he says.

Anurag is immediately challenged by septuagenarian Radha Krishna Tewari. ''One only has to travel from airport to the railway station to see the change,'' he says. 

Such debates are now common at the 'paan' and tea shops across the city as well as the famous ghats on the Ganga.

Interestingly, however, even Anurag and other supporters of Modi's rivals here admit that the prime minister is going to win without any difficulty and that it is a fight over his margin of victory though they feel that it will be because the opposition failed to put up a strong and consensus candidate from Varanasi.

Interestingly, many alliance and Congress supporters felt that it would not have been an easy fight for Modi had Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi contested from here. 

''It will be a symbolic victory for the opposition if the victory margin of Modi declines,'' says Ram Kishun, who sells 'gutkha' at the famous Dashashwamedh Ghat.

The leaders of the alliance (SP, BSP) and the Congress may be claiming on the record that they are fighting to win, they also concede off the record that all they want is to put up a good fight.

Local BJP leaders also say that their efforts here is to increase the victory margin of Modi. ''We want to make his victory a grand one...last time he had contested as a BJP nominee but this time he is the fray as a prime minister,'' said Daya Shankar Mishra alias 'Dayalu', a local BJP leader while speaking to DH.

Mishra said that an increased victory margin would be an approval of the developmental works undertaken by Modiji. Modi had won from here in 2014 by over 2.71 lakh votes.

Even Modi, in his message to the electorate of Varanasi, and also in his election rallies, urged them to exercise their franchise in large numbers. ''We have already won but we have to make the victory a grand one,'' he said.

2014 LS result                      

Candidate  Votes secured
Narendra Modi (BJP)  5.81 lakh
Arvind Kejriwal (AAP)  2.09 lakh
Ajai Rai (Cong)    75 thousand 

 

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