When I see the pitiable condition of Ganga I feel pained but I feel it is Maa Ganga who has decided I have to do something for Her.

Need of the hour is to restore the glory of the Ganga. Today Maa Ganga is calling us, her children to make the river clean once again.

When Narendra Modi visited Varanasi on May 17 to thank the city for electing him with a huge margin, he began on a note indicative of the realization that he was well aware of the city’s expectations from him, these tweets tell us.

Varanasi and Ganga need immediate intervention at the highest level to justify the legacy of heritage they have.

The city is crumbling under the pressure of administrative and political apathy that has pushed the city’s infrastructure to the ignominy of being a Ganga city where the water of the Holy River is not fit for the Holy Dip.

And the problem has been compounded by the irresponsible attitude of its inhabitants.

Modi rightly reminded the city that it needed to change its course to get the city cleaned. His ‘paan and spit and stains’ anecdote is a universal problem of Varanasi that sums up how its inhabitants have contributed in giving the city a bad name.

On May 17, after offering prayers to Lord Shiva in the Kashi Vishwanath Temple, Modi headed for the Dasaswamedh Ghat to deliver his victory speech and he began on a right note.

While reminding the city of its responsibility, Modi, in an emphatic tone, assured the city that he would see to it that the Ganga and the city, ignored for decades, get the due, get the development, and prosper to justify the legacy of being the spiritual, cultural and religious seat of India and of humanity.

And Modi can be trusted, for his track record, for bringing development to Varanasi, something the city desperately needs, something for which the city has voted him in.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey –


Two days were Gujarat centric in the national political scene. Narendra Modi resigned from the chief minister’s post yesterday. A new leader was chosen and Gujarat got its first female chief minister today. Like Modi, she, too, comes from a humble background and is a self-made person. Hopefully, the Gujarat story will continue unabated.

Also, given the kind of person and politician Narendra Modi is, he is expected to continue making his presence felt in Gujarat even while being in Delhi. It is bound to happen if Mr. Modi sees Gujarat as the laboratory that prepared him to efficiently govern the office of the prime minister of India.

Anyway, the business of political ups and downs and the minute-by-minute chaos is back to Delhi. Modi said goodbye to his Gujarat this afternoon and is in Delhi now to establish his base.

Reportedly, he was upset with lobbying for the ministerial berths. That may deter the further efforts at BJP or NDA level but the speculation over the sources based reports is going to make for the headlines till the final announcements come.

But that will not be something affecting him after the message of his ‘displeasure’ has been made public. What will be in his mind is delivering the message to the masses that he is reading into the implications of the clear mandate to the BJP, something that has put him in a firing line that will start hitting from the day-1. And to handle this, he needs to being fully prepared.

Indians have huge expectations from him and he would do all in the days he is set to begin with the nation as its chief governing officer, his acts, his words, his gestures and his decisions, to give the countrymen (clear) signals that Modi is serious about walking the talk and is already on the job.

Narendra Modi is going to take oath on May 26, 6 PM. In between, there are long 90 hours that Modi is going to exploit fully to make it as perfect a beginning as he can make.

Expect the developments toe the Modi line in the coming days, including the good enough number of symbolic elements and public outreach imagery.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey –



Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) was formed in 1980 after disintegration of the Janata Party and integration of its Jana Sangh elements.

BJP fought its first parliamentary election in 1984 winning just two seats. But it was soon to spread to the extent to stake claim to form government in Uttar Pradesh, to become the principal political opposition and to form the union government in 1996.

The party has had a mixed history when assessed on parameter of political winnability nationally and regionally, but when it comes to Banaras, it has ruled the constituency since 1991 (except 2004).

And though this BJP rule has largely been ineffective for bringing development in Banaras, a constituency that has become the most important parliamentary constituency of the General Elections 2014 with Narendra Modi and Arvind Kejriwal contesting from the seat, the prospect of being the parliamentary constituency of the prime minister has once again pushed for looking back to the BJP history in the constituency.

BJP’s stint with Varanasi began in 1984 with the party candidate Om Prakash Singh finishing 4th securing 12.7% votes. And it soon became a winning stint in 1991 when BJP’s Shreesh Chandra Dixit won the seat securing 41% votes, 9% more than the runner-up, Communist Party of India (Marxist)’s Raj Kishore.

General elections of 1996, 1998 and 1999 saw Varanasi electing BJP’s Shankar Prasad Jaiswal, a good for nothing candidate. He began with over 45% of votes, slid to 33% in the 1999 polls and lost the 2004 election to Rajesh Mishra of Congress securing only 24% votes. If Shankar Prasad Jaiswal could win three terms without doing anything for the constituency, it only tells how safe a seat Varanasi had become for the BJP.

(But what led to this equation between BJP and Varanasi? – Polarisation of Hindu votes along the religious lines in the religious and spiritual capital of Hinduism and India – after the Ram Janmabhoomi movement)

Jaiswal’s loss in 2004 was BJP’s loss more than a Congress win. Voters sent the message to the party that they could not be taken for granted and were ready for change, were ready to experiment.

But BJP should have thanked Rajesh Mishra for being just like Jaiswal in ignoring the constituency that helped BJP win back in the seat in 2009. And the similar observation can be made about Rajesh Mishra’s loss in 2009, that it was more of Congress’ loss than Murli Manohar Joshi’s win.

The narrow margin of Joshi’s win (just over 17,000) over BSP’s Mukhtar Ansari told us the voters were yet to forgive the party fully and it was only the tall stature of Joshi that he could secure the win (with 30.5% votes only).

But, Joshi also proved ineffective. He didn’t do what he was expected to do, and that too, after Jaiswal’s fiasco.

Had it not been for Narendra Modi, BJP was certainly going to lose the seat this time. And if Narendra Modi is poised to win, it has to do with his prime-ministerial claims and his pro-development image gelled well with his polarising image, something that helped the BJP make and build inroads in the constituency in 1990s.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey –



At around 6:15 PM, when the press officer of the Election Commission held its presser, the calculated poll percentage in Varanasi was at over 55% (55.34% to be precise).

And it is to go up when the Election Commission releases the finally tabulated data.

It is indeed an achievement for the Banarasis and the political spirit of the city, the religious and spiritual capital of India, to change and to adopt the change, a need of the day to raise its voice on the neglect it is facing and to demand growth and development.

Yes, it can be said the figure of 55% is not something to feel good about. But when we see it in the context of the electoral history of Varanasi and in the backdrop of the voting trends in the metro cities of the country, we find the jump is good enough.

Varanasi has not seen its poll percentage crossing 50% mark since 1984 when the Lok Sabha election in the city registered 54.94% voting. In 2009 polls, the poll percentage was 42.61%.

Also, the voting trend in big and metro cities of India has been around 50% if we take the average of all such cities. In many cities, it has been in the range of 40 to 50%.

And a 14% jump election-on-election, from 2009 to 2014, is huge for the electoral outcome and the dependent sociopolitical developments. It is more than enough to shatter all pre-existing trends. It tells how strong the wave of change in the city has been this time.

And the wave of change Varanasi aspires for and needs is for the ‘paradigm shift’ in the approach on how the city should be developed, maintaining its ancient heritage, its contemporary culture and its present and future requirements of being a global spiritual and tourism destination.

It tells Banarasis are looking for and ready to go with the candidate they think can bring development to the city. The increased participation of voters tells many more aspire to be part of the decision making process this time now.

Bravo dear Banarasis. It is the way to go. Hopefully, the trend maintains an upswing in the elections to come.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey –



The last day of campaigning for the 2014 Lok Sabha elections in Varanasi saw three road-shows apart from the routine political events.

Candidates from other parties (than Congress, BJP and AAP) continued with their campaign. 42 candidates are in fray including Kailash Chaurasia from the Samajwadi Paty and Vijay Jaiswal from the Bahujan Samaj Party. Though insignificant for the outcome, it was good for the SP candidate’s morale that he had road-show by Akhilesh Yadav on the last day of campaigning.

On follow-up developments, the 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.

Before it, the Election Commission appointed a special poll observer for Varanasi. The move is being seen as resulting from the pressure mounted by the BJP coupled with the Election Commissioner HS Brahma’s stand criticising the Election Commission on the issue of denial of permission to Modi’s election rallies in Varanasi on May 8. The EC raid on the BJP’s office in Varanasi today only added to bitterness.

On road-shows, the day began with Rahul Gandhi’s road-show that 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 rally in Amethi that saw a huge gathering.

On campaigning parameters, Rahul’s road-show was successful as was Akhilesh Yadav’s later in day and Kejriwal’s a day earlier. Both road-shows of the day were strategically planned to supply the supporters to the rallies from the different densely populated Muslim localities en-route.

And this strategy coupled with the local support of Ajai Rai and the Samajwadi Party did work to gather enough momentum to bring enough people to the two road-shows though some reports say Muslims did not enthusiastically participated in Akhilesh Yadav’s road-show (advantage Kejriwal?).

Then AAP held another road-show in the later half of the day which Arvind Kejriwal could not join due to bad health. Kejriwal did hold an election meeting in the Pandeypur area of the city in the first half of the day.

But, in totality, these road-shows were no match to Modi’s massive show of strength in his road-show on May 8. As even the road-show had no permission, he is now facing allegations of violating the Section 144.

The last day of campaigning for the 2014 Lok Sabha elections in Varanasi concluded with events adding to the high voltage political drama that started unveiling in the religious and spiritual capital of India on May 5 when Narendra Modi held an election rally in Amethi.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey –



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 –



May 9, the penultimate day of campaigning in Varanasi (before the campaigning ends on May 10) witnessed the expected high profile, high pitched political events.

Narendra Modi addressed five rallies, 2 in Eastern Uttar Pradesh (in Mirzapur and Ghazipur, adjoining areas of Varanasi) and 3 in Bihar, and the issue of denial of permission to his election events in Varanasi on May 8 was the major element in each.

BJP continued protesting and demanding the Varanasi DM’s removal. On the contrary, as reported, the DM sent a report to the Central Election Commission on Modi’s road-show yesterday on violation of Section 144.

The CEC maintained its stand on defending the acts of the DM. Meanwhile a report came that claimed that some security personnel from Gujarat had claimed security threat for Modi with Beniabagh rally venue.

The other major Varanasi-centric event of the day was Arvind Kejriwal’s road-show in Varanasi. Though some reports claimed the road-show attracted huge crowd, the situation on ground was not corresponding.

It was sad to see the surroundings when the road-show began. There were not enough people, not enough even to count for the reported 5000 AAP volunteers camping in the city, who have come to the city there from different parts of the city. Looking at the convoy and thinking of the window of opportunity that the AAP experiment could have been, it indeed felt like a sad day for the long awaited experiment with democracy in India.

Though, the road-show got more people on its sides as the evening progressed, it was in patches and was nowhere near to the consistent and spontaneous crowds seen May 8 evening during Narendra Modi’s road-show.

The day also saw an event that unfortunately, has become an AAP trademark – gaining publicity and sympathy through controversy by creating public spectacle. Raghu Ram, AAP member and MTV Roadies judge, alleged that he and Gul Panag were attacked (manhandled) by some BHU students.

Gul Panag later tweeted denying it. But the claim of manhandling with Mr. Raghu Ram maintained its stand. Now, it is to be seen in the context that Raghu Ram has had history of making such cheap publicity claims. In 2011, after claiming, he denied that his face was blackened by the ABVP activists. He cannot be trusted.

Instead, Banarasis and BHU should denounce such people who try to defame the place and its institutions. No doubt there are many faults and layers of wrongs with Banaras and BHU but none make for the kind of cheap allegations put forward by the AAP’s spokesperson and Raghu Ram.

Banaras is any thing but certainly not this – an unrestricted, unconstrained badland of uncontrolled people. AAP and other politicians should seek forgiveness for dragging BHU in this silly political game.

But it is not going to end here. Today’s events are going to be like it has been since May 7. Rahul Gandhi’s road-show is scheduled to begin this morning from the city’s outskirts on Rajghat’s side (Peeli Kothi) and will conclude at the Lanka Gate of BHU. And to add to the heat, there would be other planned and unplanned political events.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey –



Modi’s road-show in Varanasi, from the helipad of Banaras Hindu University to the city office of the BJP, and the huge crowd moving with it is a classic case of how the decisions taken in frustration and panic boomerang – in this case the initial denial of the permission to the rallies of Narendra Modi in Varanasi and the subsequent flip-flop by the Varanasi district administration resulting in the delayed permission over Modi’s rallies that boomeranged and hit back massively.

And the way the BJP has exploited the developments, it shows undoubtedly a sound presence of mind and an equally sound campaign management by the BJP core team.

It is praiseworthy if seen from a neutral analytical perspective.

If seen from the campaign management angle, the refusal of the ‘delayed’ permission for Modi’s Beniabagh rally and Ganga Aarti by the BJP was a masterstroke, a deft move that resulted in an almost 5 Kms long road-show with people on both sides of the road that just ended after spending quite a long time (over 3 hours) on Varanasi roads.

And there was much more crowd on the roads and in the streets than it was visible on the TV screens.

The flip-flop by the district administration and also by the Election Commission gave the BJP an opportunity to create a media spectacle of playing the victim card that sidelined any possibility of the steps that the administration could have taken in the name of maintaining law and order situation asking Narendra Modi to avoid the road-show.

Managing the crowd at Narendra Modi’s rally was much easier than managing the people’s outpour throughout the stretch of Modi’s trip to the BJP office.

The fact that Modi’s caravan crisscrossed the city through its most crowded areas like Sonarpura, Shivala, Godowlia and Luxa, and that too, during the rush evening hours, when traffic moves inch by inch, only exacerbated the misery of the city administration as it could not say no to Modi after the fiasco yesterday.

Any more ‘no’ could have resulted in more protests by the BJP compounding the gains from the wave of sympathy (obviously due to the ‘victim card’ that the BJP earned yesterday) when the polls were just three days away.

And this trip, from the BHU helipad to the central election office of the BJP in Varanasi, that was technically not a road-show, indeed became a massive show of strength with people thronging the Modi cavalcade throughout the entire stretch.

Narendra Modi and the BJP score handsomely here.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey –



Sympathy is always good for electoral politics. And when there is an issue to score sympathy midst an ongoing election, the beneficiary is going to be virtually unstoppable in exploiting the ends to gain the electoral mileage.

And the flip-flop by the Varanasi District Magistrate with a ‘Yadav’ surname yesterday on giving permission to Narendra Modi’s election events in Varanasi, with perceived elements of a sort of conspiracy hatched by the ruling Yadav family of Uttar Pradesh (if the BJP allegations are to be taken in account) was a perfect fodder for the BJP.

Narendra Modi has already won the Varanasi constituency. Main focus of the BJP is to maximize the impact of the Modi factor in the remaining seats of Eastern Uttar Pradesh and Bihar to score as many wins as possible.

And the Varanasi DM’s flip-flop coupled with the Election Commission’s perceived inaction in the matter yesterday made the BJP charging them left, right and centre that prepared the ground for today’s acts on ground that began this morning and are expected to build by afternoon when Modi addresses a rally in Varanasi’s rural outskirt of Rohania.

BJP’s top guns and workers have taken to the streets in Varanasi and Delhi simultaneously. Central Elections Commission’s office in Delhi and Banaras Hindu University’s main gate in Varanasi, so far, have been the initiating points of mobilization. Arun Jaitley and Amit Shah are sitting on Dharna while Narendra Modi has slammed the Election Commission in an Azamgarh rally.

And all this is coupled with round the clock, minute-by-minute media coverage, reaching to the masses including the intended vote bank, something that the BJP and Narendra Modi would love to see happening. And add to this is yet another Narendra Modi interview scheduled on a national news channel this evening.

When would the Modi opponents learn that their desperate acts like these are helping Modi only? But, then, the time has already run out for them.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey –



As expected, it has begun.

Amit Shah, the BJP UP in-charge and Narendra Modi’s lieutenant addressed a late night press conference yesterday slamming the District Magistrate of Varanasi, who is also the Returning Officer of Varanasi.

The day saw high pitched protests and pressers by the BJP top brass against the Varanasi DM for denying permission to Narendra Modi rallies in the city, especially at the Benia Bagh Park. Many letters were dashed to the Election Commission demanding action against the DM. Arun Jaitley was on the job till late evening.

The late night presser of Amit Shah was to hit back at the DM after his ‘delayed’ permission late in the evening that left the BJP with no time to manage the Modi rallies tomorrow. Obviously, the ‘Yadav’ surname of Varanasi DM gives the BJP enough edge to sound victimized in this case.

But the war cry the BJP has successfully managed to raise on the issue is basically about the larger picture covering the canvassing base in the remaining seats of the Eastern Uttar Pradesh and Bihar that are to vote on May 12 in the last phase of the General Elections 2014.

Narendra Modi’s victory in Varanasi is an unambiguous outcome, irrespective of the time he has devoted in the city or is to devote in the city. He won the constituency the day he decided to contest from it. The only factor to be seen here is his margin of victory.

Whatever were the intentions and the reasons of the District Magistrate of Varanasi, it gave the BJP an opportunity and they grabbed it, and exploited it efficiently.

Whatever reasoning the Samajwadi Party might have had for pushing the city DM (if it was so, as alleged), it is going to help the BJP only.

And the developments related to the episode have enough fuel to add significantly to the BJP’s possible protests today.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey –