First time in history of ‘Varanasi’ incumbent MP who is PM of India is spending three consecutive days in Varanasi. Looking at the challenges for winning in state, Modi has put all his efforts by campaigning for the party. Modi started his campaign in Varanasi with a roadshow along the route to Shri Kashi Vishwanath temple and Kaal Bhairav temple. 49 constituencies in the state vote in the sixth phase. Varanasi is also playing host to Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav, Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi and Bahujan Samaj Party Chief Mayawati. The battle for Uttar Pradesh will converge on the banks of the river Ganges. According to reports, Congress and Samajwadi party supporters also showed up and waved their party flags at Bhadaini area. They shouted slogans supporting Akhilesh Yadav and Rahul Gandhi and Modi supporters responded with louder chants. It was like a battleground, but all the rallies were packed with huge crowd. The SP-Congress alliance was in panic as it faces a certain rout in the assembly polls. The public response in Varanasi was worth seeing when parallel programmes of Modi and Akhilesh and Rahul were going on. Meanwhile Mayawati has her typical vote share and they were there by her.
Varanasi, the Prime Minister’s Lok Sabha constituency, is one of the closely watched contests of the polls seen as a bellwether for the 2019 national elections. The Samajwadi Party-Congress alliance hopes to cause an upset in three of the five Assembly segments falling under Varanasi Lok Sabha constituency currently held by the BJP. Fighting separately in 2012, the two parties had together polled more votes than the BJP in all the three seats, with the Congress finishing as the runner-up in two of these, Varanasi South and Varanasi Cantt.
It is very interesting to see that the PM, along with his entire cabinet, has left all essential work in Delhi and camped in Varanasi to save himself from the awkwardness of defeat. When the entire elected central government leave their job for which the taxpayers are paying money and involve in the election campaign for the state assembly elections for a few seats, the level of insensitivity and insecurity of the ruling party can easily be identified.
If the initial phases the UP assembly election were a completely seat-by-seat contest driven by local arithmetic so far, it is now turning into a larger competition driven by the Modi factor. Upper castes, particularly Brahmins, are playing a key role in constructing the Modi waves. The SP-Congress alliance acknowledges the shift in dynamics, has a counter-strategy for the next three phases, and believes its advantage in the first two phases will still make it the single largest formation. Meanwhile BJP’s own calculation, a top strategist says, is that 83% upper castes are voting for the party, and there is “unprecedented consolidation”. Top strategists of the SP-Congress alliance led by Prashant Kishor have closely been monitoring the shifts in preferences on a daily basis, and acknowledge there is indeed an increase in support.
BJP gaining it support from typical upper cast voters, Mayawati’s all rallies are over loaded with people, whereas Akhilesh and Rahul are giving their best. Uttar Pradesh elections are always thrilling, this time it’s more exciting. Let’s see Modi can bring win in UP or not.
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