The Congress has gone on the offensive after Narendra Modi’s impressive road-show on Thursday.
Besides, the plan to field a Gandhi family member to campaign for candidate Ajay Rai, the party appointed Kripashankar Singh, an MLA from Maharashtra, as AICC observer for the Varanasi and Allahabad constituencies.
Singh, who belongs to Jaunpur district, will be stationed in Varanasi to oversee Rai’s campaign.
What’s more, Manish Tewari, the first senior Congress leader to arrive in Varanasi after Modi’s road-show, said, “Now, it is an ideological fight between the BJP and the Congress and Varanasi is its epicentre.” He said, “Ajay Rai is not alone. The entire Congress party is with him in this fight.”
Tewari also did not rule out the possibility of UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi and party vice-president Rahul Gandhi campaigning in Varanasi. Commenting on Modi’s road-show, Tewari said, “Everyone is aware how crowd is mobilised. Most people were mobilised from the adjoining areas. They were not locals.”
Senior Congress leader Rajesh Pati Tripathi also tried to play down Modi’s road-show and the hype around it: “There are still many days left for polling in Varanasi. The party will build up its campaign in Varanasi and eastern UP.”
According to political observers, the damage to the Congress in Varanasi has been more due to infighting in the party.
Factions led by former MP Rajesh Mishra and Rajesh Pati Tripathi have always been engaged in bitter battles. Mishra was also a front-runner for the party ticket to challenge Modi, but the party high command went for Rai, a five- time MLA.