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UP Elections 2022: In Varanasi, BJP Banks on Modi Enigma for Clean Sweep Again

Both Akhilesh Yadav and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, and even West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee, are expected to camp in Varanasi next week, promising a high-voltage poll campaign. Akhilesh and Mamata are planning a joint rally and roadshow in Varanasi on March 3, the day the PM may arrive in Varanasi. Priyanka Gandhi may also arrive here the same day.

February 27, 2022 / 10:30 AM IST
Yogi Adityanath addressing a poll rally in UP (File Photo)

Yogi Adityanath addressing a poll rally in UP (File Photo)

The eight assembly seats in Varanasi are a prestige issue for the BJP, as it is Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s constituency.

The PM is expected to spend four days in Varanasi in the next week, including Sunday when he will interact with 20,000 BJP booth volunteers in the eight seats to give them the ‘Booth Vijay’ mantra. From mid-next week, multiple roadshows and public meetings led by the PM are being planned over three days. Clearly, the BJP is again hoping that the Modi enigma will see them through in Varanasi.

The BJP-led alliance won all these eight seats in 2017 when one seat was contested by SBSP and one by Apna Dal. This time, Apna Dal is contesting two seats and BJP the rest six.

Both Akhilesh Yadav and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, and even West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee, are expected to camp in Varanasi next week, promising a high-voltage poll campaign. Akhilesh and Mamata are planning a joint rally and roadshow in Varanasi on March 3, the day the PM may arrive in Varanasi. Priyanka Gandhi may also arrive here the same day.

But ask locals at the newly built Kashi Vishwanath Corridor which the PM had inaugurated last December or the ghats and people seem to swear by Modi and CM Yogi Adityanath.

“We will only vote for Modi and Yogi — no one has done this level of development in UP. There is no fear now to move around at night. We feel secure,” says Gaurav Jaiswal. His wife Akansha says: “Modi-Yogi contribution for women is big” and adds she won’t comment on Akhilesh Yadav. “For us, Modi is best. Har Yogi, Har Har Modi,” the woman says.

“Aayenge to Yogi hi,” says Abhay Singh, a Varanasi local enjoying a boat ride with his wife and two daughters. “He has worked well, controlled crime, and did a lot of development. The biggest thing here is the Kashi Vishwanath Corridor, you can see its impact in Varanasi. The way to the temple is no more congested, but grand now. Law and order is a big change,” he says.

His wife Jyoti says women can move around freely. “Akhilesh speaks lies, Yogi does what is right.”

The boatman, Suraj Sawhney, says he has come complaints with the Yogi Adityanath government over inflation but will still vote for the BJP as he got a boat license and free CNG. “No previous government helped us like this. Many things changed in Varanasi, the ghat areas have improved and the corridor has increased tourism and our business,” Sawhney tells News18.com.

The family of Chandki Gupta who has come from Chhattisgarh to visit Varanasi says he feels the BJP will get similar seats as last time in UP and praises the cleanliness and corridor construction in Varanasi. “Earlier when we came from Chhattisgarh, we were told not to stay out till late as we could be looted. Now I am moving to Varanasi late even with my family, there is no fear,” Gupta says.

Even a group of friends from Kerala, led by Radha Krishnan, say there is surely a change in law and order in UP. “But inflation is there. Kerala is far better,” they say. A young couple from Varanasi is also on the boat and says staying out late for girls is no longer an issue. “That is the most perceptible change in UP which all can see,” says Aarti.

Key seats in Varanasi seeing big fights are Varanasi (North) where BJP’s two-time MLA Ravindra Jaiswal is in the fray, Varanasi (South) where BJP minister Neelkanth Tiwari is taking on SP’s Kameshwar Nath Dikshit in a ‘Brahmin vs Brahmin fight’, Pindra seat where Congress leader Ajay Rai is again in the contest and Shivpur seat where minister Anil Rajbhar is taking on SBSP chief Om Prakash Rajbhar’s son.

Dikshit is also the Mahant of a famous temple in Varanasi and is campaigning dressed as a pujari. The contest in the Sewapuri seat of Varanasi has also become a key one as BJP candidate and sitting MLA Neel Ratan Shukla is campaigning in a wheelchair due to a medical problem.

This seat has three villages adopted by Prime Minister Narendra Modi under the MP Adarsh Gram Yojana and Sewapuri has also been recognized as a “model block” by the NITI Aayog for development, a point that Shukla is raising in the campaign.

Varanasi seats will poll on March 7 in the last phase of the Uttar Pradesh elections.
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