RAHUL’S ROAD-SHOW IN VARANASI: FIRST HALF OF MAY 10 – LAST DAY OF CAMPAIGNING IN VARANASI

GENERAL ELECTIONS 2014

The last day of campaigning for the 2014 Lok Sabha elections in Varanasi began with Rahul Gandhi’s road-show continuing the series of high voltage political drama that started unveiling in the religious and spiritual capital of India on May 7 when Amethi voted in the 8th phase of the polls.

Today’s road-show of Rahul Gandhi was less of a solidarity show for the Congress candidate from Varanasi, Ajai Rai, and more of a tit-for-tat reply to Narendra Modi’s election event in Amethi that drew huge crowd there.

Before Narendra Modi’s Amethi move, Ajai Rai was sounding like a lost voice on his demand for campaigning by the Nehru-Gandhi family and other top brass of the Congress party in the city. No one paid attention to him.

But Modi’s Amethi rally left the Congress party no option but to take charge directly against Modi in Varanasi in order to look and sound unfazed by the Modi Factor. And Rahul was chosen to lead the front for obvious reasons.

Anyway, given the pro-Modi sentiments in Varanasi and an intensive campaigning by Arvind Kejriwal, especially for the minority votes, the route of Rahul’s rally was chosen that covered areas with dense Muslim population, so as to move and mobilize the crowd to the road-show, from Peeli Kothi/Gol Gadda area (Muslim dominated localities) on the outskirts of the city (on the Rajghat side) to the Lanka gate of Banaras Hindu University. Then there were other Muslim dominated localities, Beniabagh, Nai Sadak and Madanpura, en-route to maintain the momentum.

And this strategy coupled with Ajai Rai’s local support did work to gather enough momentum to bring enough people to Rahul’s road-show. But, in totality, it was like the crowds seen during Kejriwal’s road-show yesterday, successful on election campaigning parameters, but no match to Modi’s massive show of strength in his road-show on May 8 that was technically not a road-show given the fact he was denied permission for the same and is now facing allegations of violating the Section 144.

But the success of Rahul’s road-show raises the obvious point – if not too little, it is certainly too late. Had it been held earlier, could it have helped Ajai Rai and Congress to position better against a formidable rival whose win from Varanasi is written beyond any doubt? Ajai Rai will be pinning his hope on the show now to help him become the Number 2 in the constituency.

Meanwhile, the routine political events continued. Other candidates continued with their campaigning. BJP pitched up its rhetoric against the Election Commission and the Varanasi district administration for allowing rallies of Rahul Gandhi and Akhilesh Yadav to pass through Beniabagh while denying Modi for the same. The Election Commission appointing a special poll observer for Varanasi is being seen as resulting from the pressure mounted by the BJP coupled with Election Commissioner HS Brahma’s stand criticising the Election Commission stand on the issue of Modi’s election events in Varanasi on May 8.

Then, further in the day – the day has in store two other big political events – a road-show by Akhilesh Yadav and another road-show by Arvind Kejriwal.

While the Akhilesh’s road-show has begun, reports say Kejriwal may not participate in the AAP road-show as he is not well. He did hold an election meeting in the Pandeypur area of the city in the first half of the day but his health may not permit him for the road-show before the campaigning ends at 5 PM.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

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