He will visit Sankatmochan and Vishwanath temples in the city
With Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi’s rally in Varanasi scheduled for Friday, the Bharatiya Janata Party will extend its election campaign to the eastern region of Uttar Pradesh. This is the BJP prime ministerial candidate’s first rally after the results of the four State elections are out.
In the previous four Vijay Shanknaad rallies in Uttar Pradesh, Mr. Modi has avoided the issue of Ram Mandir. Mr. Modi is scheduled to visit the famous Sankatmochan and Vishwanath temples in the city before attending the rally.
Mr. Modi’s temple visit would have clashed with the Friday prayers of Muslims. District Magistrate Pranjal Yadav said the BJP had accepted his request and made changes to the schedule so that Mr. Modi’s temple visit would conclude before the prayers.
BJP State president Laxmikant Bajpai says Mr. Modi’s temple visits should not be viewed politically.
Professor Badri Narayan Tiwari of the G.B Pant Institute of Social Sciences, Allahabad, says there are strong trends towards “Hindutvisation” and polarisation in the party’s approach. The party’s selection of venues in U.P. is an indication. “Agra is close to the holy city of Mathura. They are using the Dwarka memory of Krishna very well. Yadavs hold Krishna in high regard and Lord Krishna has links with Gujarat. Then, they picked Bahraich because of the existing Hindu-Muslim tension there. Now, Varanasi, which has been a stronghold of the RSS. Any political message sent from here will travel far,” says Prof. Tiwari.
The BJP, which has 10 seats in Uttar Pradesh, holds the Varanasi seat.
Varanasi MP Murli Manohar Joshi will also attend the rally, as will BJP president Rajnath Singh, BJP U.P. in charge Amit Shah and former Chief Minister Kalyan Singh.
The BJP has so far played up the attendance in Mr. Modi’s rallies as a sign of his growing popularity in the key State.
The party expects the Varanasi rally to be the biggest so far. Also, the BJP will try to woo OBC Patels, who feel they are not getting their space under the Yadav-dominated Samajwadi Party. An agrarian caste, the Patels make up 5-6 per cent of U.P.’s electorate.
“There is an inclination in them towards Mr. Modi. There are also indications that some Dalits might also move to Mr. Modi due to a lack of alternative,” Mr. Tiwari says.
He believes the BJP’s use of Sardar Vallabbhai Patel’s image could also draw Patel votes to it.