Ajay Rai vs. Modi: The Varanasi Conundrum Revisited


GG News Bureau
Varanasi, 18th April.
 As the political arena gears up for another showdown in Varanasi, the Congress party’s decision to field Ajay Rai against Prime Minister Narendra Modi raises eyebrows and prompts critical reflection on the viability of this electoral strategy. Rai’s candidacy marks the third time he will face off against PM Modi in a Lok Sabha contest, but his track record leaves room for skepticism and scrutiny.

Born and bred in Varanasi, Rai’s political journey traces back to his roots in the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and his tenure as the convener of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP). His initial foray into electoral politics saw him triumph as a BJP candidate in the Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections of 1996, 2002, and 2007, representing the Kolasla constituency.

However, Rai’s trajectory took a sharp turn when he parted ways with the BJP after being denied a ticket for the 2009 Lok Sabha elections. His subsequent stint with the Samajwadi Party and subsequent independent candidacy reflected a pattern of political opportunism rather than steadfast allegiance to any ideology or party.

Joining the Congress fold in 2012, Rai’s electoral fortunes continued to dwindle, culminating in a distant third-place finish in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections in Varanasi, where he trailed behind both PM Modi and Arvind Kejriwal. Subsequent defeats in the 2017 UP Assembly elections and the 2019 Lok Sabha contest further underscored his waning influence and popularity among voters.

Despite this checkered electoral history, Rai’s ascension to the presidency of the Congress’ Uttar Pradesh unit in 2023 raises questions about the party’s strategic calculus and its commitment to rejuvenating its electoral prospects in the state. His nomination for the Varanasi seat once again begs the question: does Rai possess the requisite political acumen and grassroots support to mount a credible challenge against the formidable incumbent?

The Congress party’s decision to persist with Rai as its standard-bearer in Varanasi appears perplexing in the face of PM Modi’s overwhelming victory margin of 63% in the 2019 elections.

While every candidate deserves a fair chance to contest elections, Rai’s repeated defeats against PM Modi suggest a lack of resonance with the electorate and a failure to galvanize widespread support.

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