Ground Zero in Varanasi: Unmatched campaign efforts for PM Narendra Modi's record win | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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Ground Zero in Varanasi: Unmatched campaign efforts for PM Narendra Modi's record win

May 31, 2024 07:06 AM IST

The BJP's extensive campaign efforts in Varanasi and the broader Poorvanchal region showcase their determination to secure a decisive victory.

If Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Lok Sabha constituency Varanasi is the epicenter of the seventh phase of 2024 general elections, the longest-living city is also the microcosm of BJP's well-oiled, highly efficient and formidable election fighting machine.

Top BJP leaders, including EAM S. Jaishankar, commerce and industry minister Piyush Goyal, and party president J.P. Nadda, actively canvassed in Varanasi, ensuring no voter is left unattended.
Top BJP leaders, including EAM S. Jaishankar, commerce and industry minister Piyush Goyal, and party president J.P. Nadda, actively canvassed in Varanasi, ensuring no voter is left unattended.

While only a brain-dead would give the Opposition INDI alliance candidate Ajay Rai any fighting chance in Varanasi, it is the sheer effort that the BJP leadership is putting in Poorvanchal with Kashi in particular that makes it quite evident that the party will come top in Uttar Pradesh and in the 2024 elections.

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I was in Varanasi for three days this week and found that public affection for PM Modi has not only increased from my earlier visits in 2014 and 2019 but the BJP leader has become an icon in the ancient city.

From the boatmen like Satyaprakash, plying tourists on Ganges to the owner of Pahalwan Lassi wala near Sankat Mochan temple to paanwala, rickshawwala in Gaudhulia to taxiwala in Lanka, PM Modi is something who can do nothing wrong for either Varanasi or for the country.

That does not mean that there are no takers for INDI alliance but the numbers are quiet miniscule in comparison to the Modi-supporting masses. For someone who has been visiting the city for the past two decades, Varanasi has literally transformed in front of my eyes with Kashi Vishwanath corridor, NaMo ghat, Babatpur-Kashi airport road and ring road.

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No longer one sees hanging electric cables, paan spit and trash all over the place despite the congestion still defining the old city. The railway stations are spic and span and the airport a distant reminder of a makeshift run-down airport before 2010.

Despite PM Modi being expected to be a runaway winner in the Varanasi constituency after June 1 polls, it is the breathtaking effort made by the BJP leaders which has left no grounds for complacency in the entire Poorvanchal with Kashi at the centre.

Consider this:

External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar was sent to Varanasi to meet just 61 families of Tamil Sangh in Kedarghat so that not a single vote goes against PM Modi. He of course addressed the Benaras educationists and students as well as intellectuals at the Benaras club to drive home the message why India needs a strong Modi again.

Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal was in the city for two days meeting traders, entrepreneurs and local businessmen to ensure that none hold any grievance against the Modi government. This apart, he was up in the morning and talking to the public exercising in city parks and conveying a message to support BJP.

Party President J P Nadda is holding rallies and roadshows in the entire Poorvanchal for the past four days while making Varanasi the election war room.

Women and Child Development Minister and firebrand Smriti Irani was in action on Wednesday holding election meetings and shows to muster full support of women in Varanasi.

Read: Number Theory: Outliers within the constituencies in Lok Sabha elections

That the BJP has left nothing to chance is evident from Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and half of his Cabinet shuttling between Varanasi and Gorakhpur. Former Mumbai Police Commissioner and ex-Baghpat MP Satyapal Singh has also been pushed into the voter garnering strategy as he actively convinces his community to vote for PM Modi.

But the main conductor of the show as in past 2014 and 2019 is Home Minister Amit Shah. The BJP strongman for the past week has been campaigning in Odisha, Punjab and West Bengal in the killing heat during the day and then holds meetings with key party leaders in Varanasi through the night. He then again leaves Varanasi early morning, after perhaps sleeping for two hours maximum. Shah notched up a total of 188 public outreach programmes, including rallies and roadshows, travelling 1.10 lakh km across the country since the Election Commission (EC) announced the poll schedule on March 16. On the last day of the poll campaign, Shah visited Kashi Vishwanath Temple along with his wife Sonal Shah.

Home minister Amit shah with wife Sonal Shah at Kashi Vishwanath Temple.
Home minister Amit shah with wife Sonal Shah at Kashi Vishwanath Temple.

With the top BJP leadership leaving no stone unturned in the torrid heat wave in north India, the party cadre is also enthused and is out in the streets canvassing for more votes for BJP’s Varanasi candidate. The word being spread around is that PM Modi should break the world record of victory margin this time when the results come out on June 4.

While many armchair strategists in Delhi are debating whether the BJP will be able to secure a simple majority in the 2024 Lok Sabha elections, the top party leadership is more than comfortable about the forthcoming results with PM Modi back in power for the third time.

Though no BJP leader will come on record on the result expected, yet everyone is convinced in the party that the seat numbers will be more, much more, than the last figure of 303 in 2019. A much talked about number is that BJP will get 335 seats plus/minus five with 70 out of 80 seats in UP. The party leadership believes that the seat loss due to anti-incumbency in the west will be more than made up by high numbers in the east as the BJP expects to raid the vote bank in West Bengal, Odisha and Telangana. The party is convinced that it will open accounts in Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Andhra Pradesh, as a result of which the BJP will be present in the length and breadth of the country for the first time.

Even though there are reports in Lutyens Delhi that the BJP will shed numbers in Delhi, Rajasthan and Maharashtra, the party leaders only smile at this idea and say that June 4 will prove the naysayers wrong and out of sync with the public.

Despite the orchestrated farmer movement by elements of INDI alliance particularly the Congress and another ruling party in state, the BJP is expecting to put up a good show in Punjab with the minority Hindu vote consolidating for the first time in its favour. Fact is that the ruling party in the state is quite anxious about the 2024 results from the state as the BJP is contesting Punjab alone without piggybacking on Akali Dal after several decades. The BJP is in contest currently in Gurdaspur, Hoshiarpur, Faridkot, Ferozepur, Ludhiana, Jalandhar, Patiala and possibly Amritsar. It is quite evident that the BJP may add a couple of seats in Punjab as well as retain Chandigarh.

Indians are the largest users of Facebook, Instagram and YouTube across the world. Mining the metadata from these social media sites indicates the heightened sense of national pride and the trust that Indians bestow on PM Modi. The cohesion this accords is essential to nation-building and Modi’s dream of Viksit Bharat.

The 2024 elections are crystallized on whether you are voting for PM Modi or not voting for him. There is no space for Opposition.

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