An unwritten code followed by political parties may be breached next month with a visit by Priyanka Gandhi Vadra to Varanasi and a rally by BJP PM candidate Narendra Modi in the Gandhi pocket borough of Amethi.
Top leaders of key political parties usually avoid campaigning in each other’s constituencies. Varanasi is the constituency of Modi, who is expected to reach the city for his final campaign push on May 8 or 9. Priyanka’s visit to the holy city is being planned around the same time. Other candidates from Varanasi include AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal and the Congress’ Ajay Rai.
The proposed Priyanka visit comes in the backdrop of BJP leaders in Uttar Pradesh pushing for a rally by Modi in Amethi where BJP’s Smriti Irani and Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi are in the fray.
Congress leaders say that Priyanka will not campaign in Varanasi but only wants to visit so that she can offer a puja at the famous Sankat Mochan Hanuman Temple.
However, Congress leaders say her proposed visit can boost the morale of local party workers.
Referring to the possibility of Modi campaigning in Amethi, a senior BJP leader told HT that the party had received a request from its leaders there. “It is under consideration. A decision hasn’t been taken yet”.
But Congress leaders said that they had information that the BJP had asked for permission for a Modi rally in Amethi in early May. Amethi goes to polls on May 7 and campaigning would have to end by the evening of May 5.
Congress leaders indicated that they would further tweak their strategy if the BJP went ahead with a Modi rally in Amethi. “We are keeping a close watch. If he goes to Amethi, we will respond appropriately,” a Congress leader said.
Amethi is witnessing an interesting contest this time with the entry of poet-turned-politician Kumar Vishwas of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in the fray.