Saffron tide in Varanasi as all eight seats go the BJP way

Diverse mix: Voters queue up in Varanasi.

Diverse mix: Voters queue up in Varanasi.   | Photo Credit: Rajeev Bhatt

Holi comes early for party in the Lok Sabha constituency of the Prime Minister as his focussed campaign pays handsome dividends

The holy city of Varanasi celebrated Holi a day ahead on Saturday. Hundreds of BJP leaders and workers, their faces smeared with saffron and gulal (red-coloured powder) danced through the city to the thumping of victory drums and resonant trumpets.

The party has created history in the Prime Minister’s Lok Sabha constituency, where he campaigned for three consecutive days before polling, by winning all the eight Assembly seats.

“Since Independence, it has never happened that all eight Assembly seats were won by a single political party in Varanasi … It seems Baba Vishwanath (presiding deity at the famous Vishwanath temple) has agreed to adopt PM Modi as his adopted son,” a jubilant party supporter said.

All Modi magic

Nagendra Raghuvanshi, BJP’s regional vice-president, sitting in the party’s office at Gulab Bagh in Sigra, told The Hindu that “it’s been an unprecedented win for the party” as workers danced in joy.

Outside Mr. Modi’s camp office in the Ravindra Puri area, a group of young men danced to the chants of “har har Modi; Jai Sri Ram”. On the roads, motorbike-borne BJP workers, wearing party caps or saffron bandannas, rode by waving the party flag and chanting “Modi…Modi…Modi”.

“It’s all Modi show in Varanasi. Or, call it Modi magic…... otherwise, even the party leaders who were contesting the poll were not sure of such a clean sweep of all eight seats,” Hare Ram Pandey, a shop owner at Lanka told The Hindu. Even two days back the senior-most BJP leader and seven- time party MLA, Shyamdeo Rai Chaudhury, had admitted that the contest in all eight seats for the party was going to be very tough, added Mr. Pandey. Mr Chaudhury was denied a party ticket this time but he had accompanied Mr. Modi to the Vishwanath temple.

Yeh Baba Vishwanath ki nagari hai, yahan se koi khali wapas nahi jata (this is Lord Shiva’s one returns from here empty handed),” said an excited Jawahar Singh as he waved to a group of motorcycle-borne youths. “Varanasi has never let down PM Modi, not in 2014, nor in 2017…and will not in 2019 also,” he added.

Many in the city believe that it was Mr. Modi’s three road-shows, his puja at the Vishwanath temple and his development work for the constituency that paid handsome dividends to the BJP. “Otherwise, the BJP would not have won even four seats here,” quipped Rajendra Tiwari at the BHU campus. Mr Tiwari, a traditional Congress supporter had voted for the BJP this time “because of PM Modi”. “ He has allocated Rs 25,000 crore for a small city like Varanasi and it’s not a the next two years, anyone can see Varanasi’s development,” Mr. Tiwari said.

The underground electrification work, under construction ring road and cleanliness drive in the city have been three major works of PM Modi which the local people count readily on their finger tips.

Dejected Opposition

On the other side of the city, at the deserted Congress party office in Englishiya Lane, just two party workers Anand Shukla and Shailendra Singh were glued to a TV set in a sombre mood. “Our party’s alliance with SP proved suicidal…we’d have done better had we fought on our own,” Mr. Singh said. . However, Mr Shukla said, “All non-Yadav backward votes consolidated in favour of BJP and so this is a victory for them.”

At the BSP office in Ashok Nagar Pandeypur, office worker Raj Bahadur was the lone face, watching the TV hung on the wall. “None has come here since morning…for what they will come?...sab-kuch ulta-pulat ho gaya (everything turned topsy-turvy),” he told The Hindu. The SP office at Ardali Bazaar lane was locked with no one in sight.

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Printable version | Feb 19, 2020 9:17:05 AM |

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