Elections

Modi magic at its best in Kashi; roadshow draws massive crowd

Shishir Sinha Varanasi | Updated on April 25, 2019 Published on April 25, 2019

Prime Minister Narendra Modi during a roadshow in Varanasi   -  AFP

UP Chief Minister, other BJP leaders join him in the procession

Amidst his biggest roadshow, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday presented himself before the people of Varanasi to seek their votes for the second time. He will file his nomination on Friday.

He will take on Ajai Rai of the Congress and Shalini Yadav of the Mahagathbandhan.

Local political leaders and poll pandits feel that Modi can win by a much larger margin as the opposition candidates are not so strong. A former BJP man, Ajai Rai contested as an SP candidate in 2009 and as a Congress candidate in 2014. In fact, he forfeited his deposit during the last election. Shalini (44), is contesting Parliamentary election for the first time. She lost the mayoral poll in Varanasi in 2017 on a Congress ticket to a BJP candidate.

Grand roadshow

It was a really hot and humid day with temperature over 40 degree Celsius. But that did not deter thousands of people from assembling in Lanka area, which houses the entry gate to Banaras Hindu University (BHU) set up by Madan Mohan Malaviya. It was a riot of colours. Artists from all regions of the country entertained the people. Modi arrived nearly two hours late, but none complained. Wearing a saffron-coloured kurta and white pajama with an angvastram draped around his shoulder, he first garlanded the statue of Malaviya located just before the university gate. The scene was exactly the same as in 2014.

The Prime Minister began his roadshow at 5.20 pm. The nearly 6 km stretch of road had over 100 specially-created stages highlighting various government schemes.

The crowd was everywhere — on the road, on balconies, on building roofs and on makeshift platforms lining the road. Many had ‘damroo’ (a percussion instrument). There were showers of rose petals. The route had two densely Muslim populated areas but there too the reception was no different. It took more than two hours to reach Dashasmedh Ghat, world famous for Ganga Arti since 1991.

There was larger than life cut-out on the other side of the Ganga. A drone in the sky captured every minute. Nearby ghats were decorated with diyas. It was not an ordinary Ganga Arti.

Arti was scheduled to start at 7 pm (different time for summer and for winter) but was delayed with a hope that Modi will be able to join in time.

After waiting for nearly 30 minutes, seven pundits began the arti without Modi, who joined after some time. BJP President Amit Shah was also present.

UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, Apna Dal leader and Cabinet Minister Anupriya Patel along with State BJP chief Mahendra Pandey were with the PM throughout his roadshow. On Friday, Modi is expected to visit the Kal Bhairon temple, the god known as gatekeeper of Kashi, before proceeding to file his nomination.

Published on April 25, 2019
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