Lok Sabha elections 2019: BJP eyes record, not just victory, as bigwigs gather in Varanasi
Their aim is to break the record for a victory margin in a seat Modi won by a margin of 371,785 votes defeating the Aam Aadmi Party’s Arvind Kejriwal in 2014.Updated: May 17, 2019 08:06 IST
Top ministers of the Union cabinet are camping in the holy city of Varanasi where Prime Minister Narendra Modi is a candidate. Their aim is to break the record for a victory margin in a seat Modi won by a margin of 371,785 votes defeating the Aam Aadmi Party’s Arvind Kejriwal in 2014.
While Railway Minister Piyush Goyal has been camped in Varanasi with UP Health Minister Sidharth Nath Singh and Power Minister Shrikant Sharma since May 13, Wednesday saw External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj in Kashi for four hours to flag off a large scooter rally (for women) in favour of Modi. On Thursday, Information and Broadcasting Minister Rajyavardhan Rathore arrived in the constituency for door-to-door campaigning and Minister of State for External Affairs General V K Singh is to join the battle on the last day.
Although the BJP is fighting hard to create electoral space in West Bengal, the party has not lost sight of its premium constituency with its president Amit Shah fine-tuning strategies. Shah flew down to Varanasi after the North Kolkata roadshow at midnight and then left for Delhi for the press conference in protest of TMC violence at 3.00am. Modi himself criss-crosses Kashi airport virtually every day and keeps in touch with the political mood in Varanasi.
Goyal, Singh and Sharma are in charge of “sampark” meetings; a total of 100 are scheduled between May 13 and May 17. The ministers are using these meetings to engage with various communities and business groups and urging them to garner maximum votes for Modi.
The roadshow of Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra on Wednesday evening for party candidate Ajay Rai was well-attended, but no one seriously expects him to win. The camp of the Mahagatbandhan’s candidate Shalini Yadav wears a deserted look. At one sampark meeting, the focus is on the work Modi has done for his constituency.
“The poor sections from all communities have been beneficiaries of PM Modi’s awas (housing scheme), Ayush and toilet schemes. This has benefited the Muslims too and hence there is no reason why Varanasi should not vote for Modi,” said Shankar Rajbhar, who runs a business establishment near Chowk.
Then, there’s the fact that this is the constituency of the Prime Minister – something that hasn’t been lost on many.
“ We will vote not to elect an MP but a Prime Minister,” said Shishir Bajpayi, a BJP worker. This is also the common refrain the city, even among some Muslims.