Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Uttar Pradesh chief minister Akhilesh Yadav, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi and BSP supremo Mayawati will be in Varanasi on Saturday for campaigning in the last phase of UP assembly elections.
This is probably the first time any place in the state would have such near-simultaneous high-profile VVIP presence. Security has been beefed up in the city and officials of the elite Special Protection Group (SPG) which guards Modi and Gandhi are camping in the city to ensure that the entire route where these VVIPs will move is sanitised and protected.
Amid the high-voltage electioneering, Modi, who is also the Lok Sabha MP from Varanasi, is also expected to offer prayers at Kashi Vishwanath and Kal Bhairav temples and meet people in various areas after beginning his day from the Banaras Hindu University around 9 am.
Modi, who will be holding a road show, would start from the BHU gate and will go through Ravidas Lanka gate, Assi, Bhadaini, Sonarpura, Madanpura, Gaudolia, Bans Phatak and would then offer prayers at the Kashi Vishwanath temple. He will then move to Chowk, Nichibagh, Maidagin, Kotwali Thana, Visheshwarganj, Gujratat temple and then to the Kaal Bhairav temple.
He will then proceed to Jaunpur to address an election rally, only to return and meet intellectuals of the city, party workers and then fly back to New Delhi around 9 pm.
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 Gandhi and Yadav.
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.
Akhilesh Yadav who is also the Samajwadi Party (SP) president, will address two public rallies in Tandia and Munari after which he will join Gandhi for a 9-km long road show. His wife and Kannauj MP Dimple Yadav is also likely to join the road show.
The road show will commence at the Kutchery and conclude at Girijaghar--a church situated in Godaulia locality--close to Kashi Vishwanath and Kaal Bhairav temples.
The SP-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.
Four-time UP chief minister and Bahujan Samaj Party supremo Mayawati is to address a rally at Jagatpur.
The district administration has tried to draw the route plan in such a way that the leaders and their supporters do not come in each other’s way. Intelligence agencies have also been pressed into service to ensure that the VVIP movement goes on unhindered and safely.
The festive season, with the festival of colours Holi around the corner and the narrow lanes of the temple town have added to the worries of the security agencies. The campaign by these high-profile leaders would coincide with the balloting in 49 seats in the neighbourhood under the penultimate phase of the seven-phase staggered elections.
Varanasi and neighbouring districts will go to the polls in the final phase on March 8.