Varanasi Polls: BJP Heavyweights Vie for Victory Amidst Opposition Roar

GG News Bureau
Varanasi, 31st May. 
Varanasi, a city deeply entrenched in the heart of Uttar Pradesh, gears up for the final phase of the general elections on June 1st. The Lok Sabha elections of 2024 have reached their culmination, with voting set to take place in the seventh and final phase on June 1st, and results to be announced on June 4th. Among the constituencies going to polls on June 1st is the Varanasi seat, contested by none other than Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself, making it a unique battle where Modi faces Modi.

While technically a one-sided contest, both the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and opposition parties are leaving no stone unturned in their campaign efforts. The entire focus lies on either increasing or decreasing the margin of Narendra Modi’s victory.

In the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, Prime Minister Modi secured over 60% of the votes in Varanasi. This time, with the Samajwadi Party (SP) and Congress forming an alliance, both sides are putting in their utmost effort. Against PM Modi, there are six contenders vying for the Varanasi seat.

Under the SP-Congress alliance, Congress has nominated Ajay Rai as its candidate, while the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) has declared Atahar Jamal Lari as its candidate. Other contenders for the seat include Gagan Prakash Yadav from the Communist Party of India (Marxist), Koli Shetty Shivkumar from the Yug Tulsai Party, and two independents – Sanjay Kumar Tiwari and Dinesh Kumar Yadav.

The BJP has thrown its full weight behind the Varanasi battle, with top leaders making frequent visits to the city. Home Minister Amit Shah has been overseeing the entire electoral process, while party president JP Nadda has been actively campaigning in Varanasi. Cabinet Minister for Women and Child Development, Smriti Irani, also visited the city on Wednesday. PM Modi himself held a roadshow in Varanasi on the day of his nomination. Meetings with Amit Shah and OP Rajbhar were also held.

According to sources, Amit Shah held meetings with top BJP leaders in Varanasi on Monday and Tuesday, gathering feedback about the ongoing election campaign. Amit Shah’s program in Varanasi is scheduled to continue until May 30th. Om Prakash Rajbhar, an ally of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) and president of the Suheldev Bharatiya Samaj Party, also met with Shah in Varanasi.

Minister of Commerce and Industry, Piyush Goyal, has been camping in the city for the past two days, meeting with industrialists and businessmen. On Monday, BJP chief Nadda had tea with party workers and supporters on the sidelines of a street stall in Varanasi, discussing feedback on the grassroots-level campaigning.

Varanasi witnesses major campaigning by senior BJP leaders

On Tuesday, Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya participated in a program at the Laxa area of Varanasi. Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath held discussions with lawyers, shedding light on the developmental works of the central government. On May 26th, Foreign Minister S Jaishankar held meetings with educators and members of the Tamil community in Varanasi.

Anupriya Patel also sought votes for the BJP

In a campaign rally held in Benipur village of Varanasi on Tuesday evening, Anupriya Patel, the national president of her party, sought votes for the BJP. She said that people are not going to elect a Member of Parliament from the Varanasi constituency but are going to elect the Prime Minister. She expressed confidence that Ajay Rai would win from the constituency and assured that Modi would not be the Prime Minister after June 4th.

Akhilesh and Rahul also joined the campaign

In their speeches, Rahul Gandhi and Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav launched a joint attack on the Bharatiya Janata Party from the Prime Minister’s constituency. They said that the ongoing elections are a struggle to protect the country’s constitution and democracy.

Under the seat-sharing agreement between SP and Congress, SP is contesting on 63 out of Uttar Pradesh’s 80 seats, while Congress is contesting on 17 seats. The president of Congress’s state unit, Ajay Rai, is contesting against Modi from the Varanasi Lok Sabha seat. He had contested from this seat in 2014 and 2019 as well but lost both times. Addressing a rally in Varanasi on Tuesday, Rahul said that he is fully confident that Ajay Rai will win from the electoral area. He guaranteed that Modi would not be the Prime Minister after June 4th.

Akhilesh, in his address, accused the BJP of deceiving people in the name of development and said, “Those who say they are a double-engine government have deceived the people here. Now, we have got double strength.” He said that they had earlier said they would leave one seat in Uttar Pradesh and win all the others. However, now they are confident of sweeping all the seats.

Meanwhile, the opposition is not leaving any stone unturned in the Varanasi battle. Asaduddin Owaisi, the president of the All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM), who is in an alliance with his party (AIMIM) in Uttar Pradesh, also held a public meeting in Varanasi on Tuesday. His party has fielded a candidate against PM Narendra Modi. Owaisi appealed for votes in favor of PDM candidate Gagan Prakash Yadav. During this time, Krishna Patel, the president of his party (AIMIM), and MLA Siraat Thakur were also present. During this time, Owaisi took a dig at not only the BJP but also the SP and Congress.

Owaisi said, “A margin of 400 means the constitution has gone, reservation has gone, employment has gone, and inflation will rise, so you have to vote carefully.” Taking a dig at Rahul and Akhilesh, he said, “Rahul-Akhilesh cannot defeat Modi. Remember this. They just want to save their family.”

No leader for Muslims – Owaisi

He said, “We want our country to be strong so that Muslims get their place in Indian politics. Have you ever supported Congress, then Janata Dal, Lok Dal, BSP, and SP? Who supported us? Who came to our house and lit a lamp? Who opened schools in our neighborhoods? Until you become voters, we will continue to be victims of injustice. Modi is here today, tomorrow someone else will come. In such a situation, you make your leadership because there is no leader for Muslims. I do not want to be a leader. I appeal to make anyone a leader, I will work by standing behind him. You have to make your leader.”

Varanasi Lok Sabha seat

Under the Varanasi Lok Sabha constituency, there are 5 Vidhan Sabha constituencies. BJP has won the Varanasi seat seven times since 1991, with only one occasion (in 2004) where the seat went to Congress. The majority of the voters in the constituency are Hindus, with a significant presence of Brahmins, Bhumihar and Jaiswal.

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