Varanasi: PM Modi’s roadshow underway in Varanasi, he will offer prayers at the Kashi Vishwanath temple & Kaal Bhairab temple shortly.
The battle for Uttar Pradesh will converge on the banks of the river Ganges on. As 49 constituencies in the state vote in the sixth phase, Varanasi will play host to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav, Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi and Bahujan Samaj Party Chief Mayawati who will all campaign in the historic city for the final round of the critical assembly elections due on March 8. Varanasi, being the Prime Minister’s Lok Sabha constituency, will be one of the closely-watched contests of the polls seen as a bellwether for the 2019 national elections.
PM Modi arrived in Varanasi this morning and is expected to offer prayers at Kashi Vishwanath and Kaal Bhairav temples before leaving for Jaunpur where he is scheduled to hold an election rally, party officials said.
“The Prime Minister will be back in his parliamentary constituency in the evening to address a public meeting,” BJP national general secretary Bhupendra Yadav said. The Prime Minister is expected to hold two more election meetings in Varanasi – on Sunday and Monday.
Top leaders of the party and members of the Union council of ministers have been camping in the city to galvanise public support in favour of the BJP, which is aiming at a revival in the state where it had been in decline for more than a decade before making a dramatic comeback in the 2014 general elections when it won a stunning 71 Lok Sabha seats in UP, its best-ever performance till date.
In what is likely to cause jitters to the administration and badly affect traffic in the city known for its congested streets, the Prime Minister’s tour will be coinciding with a joint road show by Akhilesh Yadav and Rahul Gandhi.
The road show was postponed twice last month and is now being held with two more days to go for campaigning in the final lap of seven-phase assembly polls.
A 10 km-long route has been finalised by the district administration in consultation with the elite Special Protection Group (SPG) which provides security cover to both PM Modi and Mr Gandhi.
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.
BSP chief Mayawati will be holding a rally on the outskirts around Rohaniya. Security forces have been deployed in large numbers to stand guard over the high-profile rallies. The results of the elections, along with those in four other states, will be announced on March 11.