LOK SABHA POLLS: VARANASI ELEMENTS EXPECTED TO BE IN FOCUS

GENERAL ELECTIONS 2014

The day Narendra Modi declared to contest from Varanasi, the constituency became the most prestigious Lok Sabha seat in the country and so came to be the most important constituency for the political analysts and the media.

Now, regularly till May 16, when the results of the General Elections 2014 are announced, and intermittently after that, every possible aspect of Varanasi that can hit the viewers’ sentiments to score weightage and rating points, would be skimmed again and again, from every possible angle, to keep the storyboards and frames populated.

So, what are the elements going to attract (and attracting) the maximum attention?

— Varanasi as religious and spiritual capital of India and Hinduism

— Importance of the Varanasi parliamentary constituency for Eastern UP and adjoining areas of Bihar

— Being the religious capital of Hinduism and Narendra Modi being the most polarising figure for the Hindu votes, if Varanasi can help to mobilize the Hindu votes spread across a larger geographical area in favour of the BJP

— If Varanasi can help the BJP enhance its LS polls tally decisively

— Hindu-Muslim equation of Varanasi

— Hindu castes, their affiliations, inclinations and segregations

— Riots and aftermath – riots from 1989 to 1992 – before and after the Babri Mosque demolition

— Muslim localities, Muslim voters, their reactions on Narendra Modi, Arvind Kejriwal and other candidates

— How Varanasi has been a BJP seat in Lok Sabha polls since 1991 with an aberration in 2004 when Rajesh Mishra, former BHU student union president, won on a Congress ticket

— If Varanasi is not a safe seat for the BJP as Murli Manohar Joshi won by just over 17,000 votes in 2009

— The M-M factor – if Mukhtar Ansari fights and the Muslim vote polarisation – like Narendra Modi, Mukhtar, the don-turned-politician is also a criminal figure with cases lodged against him for acting to inflame religious sentiments during moments of crisis

— If Arvind Kejriwal can sequeeze out the Muslim votes (that seems a distant possibility if Mukhar decides to contest)

— Varanasi being the city nurtured by Kashi Vishwanath and the Ganga

— The Gyanvapi history and the Kashi Vishwanath Temple – and the BJP-RSS agenda in the past

— Banaras Hindu University

— Civic infrastructure of Varanasi

— Cultural heritage of Varanasi – Ganga Ghats, temples of the city, Sarnath, historical legacy of its places, its narrow lanes, Banarasi Saree, Paan, Banarasi sweets

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

ARVIND KEJRIWAL IN VARANASI: WORN-OUT NEWS, ISN’T IT? SO, WHAT’S NEW CROPPING UP?

GENERAL ELECTIONS 2014

Arvind Kejriwal is in Varanasi – worn-out news, isn’t it?

Let’s see what other interesting stuff he succeeds in creating to remain in news during his days of campaigning in the city the spirit, the flow of which is entirely different from the type of politics Kejriwal has been doing since December 8, 2013 when his Aam Aadmi Party delivered an unexpected performance in the Delhi assembly polls.

Arvind Kejriwal began his initiation in the Temple Town with its temples, a move that every worn-out class of politician (Kejriwal is fighting against, to cleanse the System free of them) aspiring to eke out a political career from Varanasi does.

He took a dip in the Ganga. He visited the temples of Kashi Vishwanath and Kaal Bhairav to have blessings. So, he tried to address the Hindu sentiments in the religious capital of Hinduism.

Now, the secularist in him needed to visit a Muslim religious place to balance the score as Muslims account for almost 17 percent of the vote share. But he fell short of planning here. He didn’t do it. (It tells he is not a fully worn-out politician yet).

The electoral Karma of Kejriwal then took him to the Benia Bagh Park. Benia Bagh is a congested Muslim locality with its narrow stretch of main road in a perpetual traffic jam mode. Even the passing traffic looks like a rally as one of my batch-mates from BHU said.

Being a Muslim locality, a congested narrow stretch of road and a small park should have made the park ideal choice for Kejriwal who would be banking on the Muslim votes to challenge Narendra Modi from the city to start his show.

Kejriwal led a road show to the park to gather the required crowd for the voice vote referendum on his candidature from Varanasi.

The road show on the narrow stretch of road from Lahurabir to Benia Bagh had more policemen than the public as the participants. And like the typical trademark Kejriwal events, eggs and ink were thrown on Kejriwal and his cavalcade (no other politician attracts perpetrators of these acts this much!).

It seems the failure to visit a Muslim religious place hit Kejriwal’s plan. His supporters had claimed to have a crowd of one lakh. The permission taken was for 20,000. The crowd in the park was sparse and remained thin till end when he formally announced to contest from Varanasi.

There are contradicting claims on the strength of the crowd but the consensus reads it about 6,000-8,000. But even if it was 25,000-30,000, that also was nowhere near to the claims. It was when much of the crowd was imported as reported.

The effect of all this was visible.

Kejriwal’s words and body language, at the end of his first day in Varanasi, said he had already conceded defeat – on his very first day in Varanasi – the thin crowd even in a Muslim locality – it’s written on the wall for him!! No tweets on the grand success of his rally last evening, was most unlikely of him.

But how can he accept it. That would kill the spirit of his party at a time when the election campaigning is entering its most decisive phase. He had to charge it up again to remain vocal, to claim many more claims.

To remain in news – yes, so after a dull first day – on the 2nd day of his stay there, a stay that should be more like a sojourn or a spiritual and religious stopover, for his itinerary so far, he came with his brilliant assessment yesterday, much like his voice vote referendum in the partially filled Benia Bagh park on his first day when he said Narendra Modi was losing in Varanasi and the BJP’s prime-ministerial candidate should concentrate on Vadodara, his second seat.

And so, we had his tweets yesterday, questioning and claiming, unlike his first evening in Varanasi.

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