As the elections wind down and the focus once against shifts to Varanasi — and the Narendra Modi versus Arvind Kejriwal contest — developments on Thursday took the excitement level several notches higher.
The Janata Dal-United, a one-time BJP ally, announced its decision to support the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) chief against Modi even as don-turned-politician Mukhtar Ansari — who is supporting Ajay Rai, the Congress candidate in the holy city, where Ansari wields considerable influence — walked out of an Agra jail on 10-day parole to campaign in the run-up to the May 12 election.
However, the Qaumi Ekta Manch chief —prime accused in the murder of BJP MLA Krishnanand Rai, Ajay Rai’s brother — can only campaign in Ghosi constituency in UP’s Mau district, from where he is contesting the Lok Sabha elections.
Having picked up its very first ally, AAP is hoping senior JD(U) leader Nitish Kumar will campaign for Kejriwal against the BJP’s PM nominee. AAP leaders said the Bihar CM’s visit would help mobilize the two lakh-odd Kurmi votes in favor of Kejriwal as the CM belongs to this caste.
As of now, the JD(U) has announced that party president Sharad Yadav and general secretary KC Tyagi will tour Varanasi to canvass for Kejriwal. Tyagi said the decision to back Kejriwal was taken to stop “divisive forces” from grabbing power and to maintain the country’s secular culture.
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The CPI(ML)’s Dipankar Bhattacharya has already extended support to Kejriwal while the decision of the shankaracharya of Puri to visit Varanasi to campaign against Modi is also being viewed as a positive development in the AAP camp.
Granting Ansari parole, a Delhi court said he cannot travel outside Ghosi at any time during the parole period (May 1-10) and will spend his nights in the area’s police station. Ghosi also goes to polls on May 12.
Before filing his nomination from Ghosi, Ansari had announced his decision to stand from Varanasi, only to back down later saying votes should be consolidated against Modi. In 2009, he had given the BJP’s MM Joshi a scare in the holy city, losing by just 17,211 votes. Earlier this week, he came out in support of Ajay Rai.