Aam Aadmi Party leader Arvind Kejriwal put up a brave fight in Varanasi, the epicentre of the 2014 general election, but could not withstand the “Modi wave” in the end.
Even the most generous sympathisers of the AAP chief had given him no chance against the might of Narendra Modi, the BJP prime ministerial candidate. The fight was only for a respectable second, which Mr. Kejriwal managed to secure by winning 1.8 lakh votes as against Mr. Modi’s massive 5.17 lakh votes.
So confident was the BJP of Mr. Modi’s victory in Varanasi that its supporters had started putting up posters congratulating the leader a night before the results.
The odds were always stacked against Mr. Kejriwal, who took on the Gujarat Chief Minister in the temple town considered a Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh stronghold and regional headquarters of the saffron brigade. Mr. Modi’s campaign in Varanasi was boosted by the RSS’s door-to-door campaign. The BJP leader’s evocation of the Ganga during his road show on the day of filing his nomination set up the scene for a saffron wave in Varanasi.
The Congress’ Ajay Rai, a five-time MLA, whose entry was surrounded with much hype, proved to be a dud in the end. The former BJP man stood a distant third with only 68,080 votes. The BSP’s Vijay Prakash Jaiswal and the SP’s Kailash Chaurasiya, who were not even in the picture, finished fourth and fifth with 57,531 and 42,242 votes respectively.
In Varanasi, Mr. Kejriwal was banking heavily on the support of Muslims and rural voters across the Other Backward Classes and the Dalits. He even tried matching up to Mr. Modi’s roadshows with his own show of strength. The main plank of Mr. Kejriwal's campaign was to “expose” the “corporate-run” development model of Gurajat. However, that did not hold water in Varanasi as he was swept away by the “Modi wave”.